Eagle Valley High students ‘drive drunk’
GYPSUM -The parking lot at Eagle Valley High School was full of drunk drivers. Or rather, students in a drunk driving simulator. Devils Against Drunk Driving and the Eagle County’s Sheriff’s Office demonstrated the Simulated Impaired Driving Experience vehicle, or SIDNE, juniors and seniors. SIDNE is a battery-powered vehicle that simulates the effects of impairment from alcohol or other drugs on a motorist’s driving skills.”I think this is possibly the best way for kids to see what it would feel like to not have control of your vehicle, without actually being impaired,” said Cathy Strickler, the guidance counselor who helped set up the event. The students agreed, especially because SIDNE went in and out of the impaired driving mode as they drove. “I was kind of shocked, actually,” said Lana Hymes of her driving ability when “impaired.” Hymes, a senior and Eagle resident, said she was all over the place when driving in the impaired mode.
“It’s scary to think that is how you would drive,” she said.SIDNE operates in two modes. In normal mode, the vehicles steering, braking and acceleration respond properly. In impaired mode, the vehicle reacts with delayed steering, braking and acceleration.”I didn’t think I would overcorrect as much as I did,” Hymes said. “It was horrible,” Gypsum junior Courtnee Best said. “It was like a three-second delay of all my reactions as I was driving.” Best laughed as she recounted how she watched the drive who tried SIDNE before her. Her strategy – one that impaired drivers often fall back on – was to just go really slow and do better than everyone else. “But when I got in the car, I was all over the place too,” she said.
It was mainly juniors and seniors in the vehicle, but Strickler said she hopes to get everybody in school in the simulator in the coming months. “It’s a really good educational tool for our students,” she said. “The choices they make are definitely going to impact someone, or themselves, down the road.”Some students admitted that they knew people who had driven drunk. And while insisting they would not do that, they can see why kids make the poor choice. “You can’t get taxis down here,” Best said. “And when someone is drunk, they aren’t going to read a bus schedule.”Diego Reyes, a sophomore, said he knows some parents, including his own, who help kids out when they need a sober driver. He said he once had to call his mom for a ride. “It opened our relationship up more and it ultimately made me safer,” he explained.Best agreed that if she were in that situation, she would likely call her mom. “I know my mom would be mad at me, but she’d be much less mad than she would be if I drove home drunk.”
Reyes said it’s too bad when kids are too scared to trust their parents with a call for a ride. “A lot of people’s parents don’t say that (they can call), so they drive drunk so they don’t miss curfew.”Best the simulator will help the kids realize all the lives they are putting into jeopardy when choosing to drink and drive. “I tell my friends ‘Sure, drink if you want, but don’t drive,'” Reyes said. “It’s one thing if people drink and mess with their own lives, but if they drive drunk they are making things worse for other people’s lives.”This article first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado