Central Texas College

Youth learn dangers of driving drunk, distracted

Posted on: Wednesday, Mar. p 1022 10:31PM
By Jackie Stone
Kileen Daily Herald

About 300 put on “drunk goggles” and tried to pass field sobriety tests or drove a DUI simulator Wednesday at Central Texas College. The turnout at the annual pre-spring break safety event on campus was the largest ever.

Staff members were in front of the library reminding students of the perils of drunken driving and of texting while driving ahead of the weeklong break from classes.

“We want to encourage people to think of the consequences, not text while driving and not drink and drive,” said Gerald Mahone-Lewis, the director of CTC’s Substance Abuse Resource Center.

Campus police put students through sobriety tests while wearing drunk goggles. Nearby students climbed into a car rigged with computers and virtual reality-style glasses to simulate the consequences of driving while drunk or while distracted by texting.

In the UNITE Aware DUI Simulator, drivers controlled the gas pedal and wheel, which were hooked up to glasses that showed them how they would perform with delayed response times or sudden obstacles.

Plenty of “tickets” were handed out, citing the drivers for virtual crimes such as driving on the wrong side of the road, causing collisions and vehicular manslaughter.

“We’re trying to increase awareness that texting and alcohol are about the same as far as distractions,” said Rena Maus, a psychology major and intern working with Mahone-Lewis.

The texting angle was stressed with contracts for students to sign in which they pledged not to text and drive, as well as blue thumb rings that were given out with the words “NO TXTING” printed on them to serve as a constant reminder to drivers.

A steady stream of passers-by and students watched the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. event. Mahone-Lewis said she was pleased with the turnout.

“We’re already surpassed the number last year, which was 250,” she said around 2 p.m. “And that’s really something, when you’ve got a community college with people coming and going all day.”