Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among teens nationwide.
Statistics show that teens between the ages of 16 and 19 have the highest number of traffic crashes and traffic violations among all drivers.
Clintonville High School students experienced the hazards of drunken driving through a virtual simulation.
UNITE International’s Arrive Alive Tour is a drunken driving and texting while driving prevention program. It uses a high-tech simulator, impact video, and a number of other resources to educate students about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving.
The simulator allows students to experience, in a controlled environment, the potential consequences of drunk and distracted driving Students get into an actual vehicle and put on a virtual reality headset, experiencing what it’s like to text and drive or drink and drive, without the real-life consequences.
Upon exiting the vehicle, each participant is handed a mock citation detailing the ramifications of their simulation. There is an external LCD monitor set-up around the simulator, showing what the driver is experiencing in their simulation, as well as a video presentation.
The event also includes pre and post-surveys on Android tablets and a Picture Pledge program, where each student has their picture taken in the simulator, and the photo is placed onto a keychain card. This is given to them as a keepsake, serving as a reminder to drive S.A.F.E (Sober and Free of Electronics) every time they grab their keys.
“Our AODA prevention group and our high school Kindness prevention student group wanted to bring a pre-prom prevention activity that would highlight the dangers of drinking and driving and texting and driving,” said Clintonville Public School District Social Worker Suzette Fountain. “We did this activity to raise awareness about the negative consequences that can occur from distracted driving.”
The program cost $2,200 and was paid out of the AODA state prevention grant funds and prevention donations, including funds from the Clintonville VFW.
“We believe if the program can save one life it would be worth the expense and efforts,” said Fountain. UNITE International representative Patrick Sheehy spoke to students before they took the simulation, and cited several statistics to help warn them of the dangers of texting and driving and drinking and driving. Sheehy cited the following statistics, as reported by organizations such as the National Safety Council, Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
Texting While Driving Causes:
• 1,600,000 accidents per year
• 330,000 injuries per year
• 11 teen deaths every day
• Nearly 25 percent of all car accidents
Texting While Driving Is:
• About six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated
• The same as driving after four beers
• The number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers
After taking the simulation, students said what they had experienced would affect their decisions when they get behind the wheel in the future.
“I thought the drunk driving simulator would make things blurry, but instead, it showed what it’s like to have a much slower reaction time,” said senior Amber Krueger. “I couldn’t stop fast enough! It was weird. Remembering this simulation probably will affect my driving decisions.”
“The texting and driving simulation was an accurate mirror of what it’s like to do it in real life,” said senior Damian Campbell. “Most people pay more attention to their phone than they do to the road when they text and drive. When I took the simulation, I didn’t crash, but I was speeding 30 percent of the time and was on the wrong side of the road 11 percent of the time. Knowing that will affect me – I won’t text and drive.”
Fountain said the simulation seemed to have a significant impact on students’ minds.
“I believe that this program was very beneficial for students because it gives them a ‘hands on’ experience of the negative consequences when teens drink and drive and text and drive,” concluded Fountain. “Student evaluations were positive and many students did report that they found the program beneficial because it made them realize how quickly accidents can happen if people text and drive and drink and drive.”