Want to teach someone to drive?
Get them behind the wheel.
Want to teach students how dangerous drunk driving is?
Times Observer photo by Ben Klein
An Eisenhower Middle High School student tries to avoid disaster during the Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence Association simulation on Thursday.
Get them behind the wheel...of the PA DUI Association Safety Sim.
Eisenhower Middle High School students had the first-hand experience of how dangerous drunk driving really is with the Pennsylvania DUI Association Safety Sim on Thursday afternoon.
While students drive down a rather familiar-looking stretch of rural road, Mike Martin of the PA DUI Association uses a computer to apply the effects of a number of drinks to the simulation, impairing the students ability to steer and brake.
"You turn your steering wheel left and right just a little bit, and you'll start feeling that delay," he said. "You'll start losing your braking as well."
Students sit in the driver's seat in front of three flat screens instead of a windshield, complete with a seat belt, a rear view mirror and side view mirrors.
It also allows their classmates to see just how dangerous drunk drivers are and how quickly things can go wrong even when sober young drivers take their eyes off the road.
When tenth grader Dayamara Haskins was driving the simulator along a stretch of two-lane highway at a cool 55 miles per hour, a truck began to back out onto the road, and the vehicle in front of her slammed on its brakes.
Martin paused the simulation just as she was about to collide with the car.
"Everything you touch up there, whether it's your brakes, your gas, your gear shift, turn signals, everything you do up there I can see. Her speed is almost 50 miles per hour, she's like two car lengths from this car she's about to run into. She hasn't even touched her brake yet," Martin said. "Tenth graders, 11th graders, and even seniors have a tendency to look just over the hood of the car."
"I'm really like shaking right now," Haskins said after the crash.
"You just hit a puppy!" another student said as a dog ran out into the road.
The Safety Sim also offers students the chance to gain valuable driving experience.
"Can I pass the bus?" another asked when approaching a curve.
Eisenhower Students Against Drunk Driving Club President Natasha Morrison, Vice President Kourtney Knapp, Secretary Amanda Morgan and Treasurer Katie Babcock helped organize the Safety Sim with Bonnie Webster of the Warren County Adult Probation Office.
Nearly 120 EMHS students age 15 and above had the opportunity to take a drive in the simulator and see how dangerous drunk driving really is.
"It's about getting the experience and getting to watch it," Babcock said. "We're hoping to promote that people shouldn't drink and drive."