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Fort Dale students simulate drunk driving

Fort Dale students got to learn first-hand just how difficult it is to drive under the influence of alcohol.

Students were allowed to climb behind the wheel of a real-car outfitted to simulate the effects of driving under the influence.

Robert Tower works with PEERS, Professionals Encouraging Education Reform Statewide. The group coordinates drunken driving simulations like this one all over the United States.

“The main idea is to show the influence of alcohol,” Tower said.

Part one of the demonstration was a real-life video, showing how alcohol had affected people’s lives. The second component, Tower described, was a car outfitted with high-tech electronics like gas-pedal sensors and a video-headset. A computer program uses inputs on weight and alcohol level to make the simulation more realistic.

“The inputs make it a more individual experience, as opposed to a group activity,” Tower said. “We think this a simulation student scan actually relate to.”

Tower said if he can reach just a few students in this group and get them to divert from alcohol, the program was a success.

Shanks Simmons, a senior at Fort Dale, said he was dizzy after trying the simulator.

“It was hard to see,” Simmons said. “I crashed once and got one ticket.”

Simmons said the video output simulated tunnel vision, which made seeing anything to the sides near impossible.

Another student, Brittany Huckaba, agreed with Simmons, saying it was blurry, and hard to make out what objects were. Huckaba said the program had impacted her.

“The video at the beginning was graphic and difficult to take in,” Huckaba said. “Between that and the simulator, I am going to think twice about drunk driving.”

Deputy Sheriff Thomas Strickland was present representing the Butler County Sheriff Department.

“D.U.I. is really a bad thing,” Strickland said. “I have seen too many people hurt-it’s not something you want to be involved in.”

Strickland said chief among his fears are that one day he will arrive on the scene of a D.U.I. accident and recognize the person involved.

“You may be drinking and driving and think you are hurting no one and won’t get caught,” Strickland said. “Sooner or later, you are going to get pulled over or hurt yourself or others.”

Strickland said sadly, he sees more and more young persons drinking and driving. He wishes he could stop all of them, he said, but he hopes programs like this will stop them from drinking in the first place.

PEERS will be traveling nationwide to show the effects of driving under the influence. For more information on PEERS or the D.U.I. simulator, visit http://www.peerawareness.com/.