Highland Students Get DUI Demonstration

For the second time in as many weeks, Virginia State Trooper Todd Brendel visited Highland High School to make students aware of the consequences of impaired and distracted driving. Last week, it involved mock accident and simulated responses from police, fire and rescue units, as well as a helicopter. This week, it featured- a golf cart. Trooper Brendel explained more.

“Today we’re utilizing our DUI simulator here at Highland County Public Schools. It’s a golf cart that’s been fabricated like a Dodge Charger, and we allow the students to drive around a cone course, and what we apply to them is what we call “beer goggles”, which adjust their vision acuity slightly. And by that token, what it does in your body is that you start to adjust to it yourself using your inner ear, and it makes you lose your balance. So as the students are learning to drive with the beer goggles, they’re also seeing how it’s affecting other systems, kind of like how alcohol affects other systems in your body.

“The “beer goggles” are set to a certain standard – the ones that we’re using today is a 0.17 to a 0.20 blood alcohol content, and of course driving while intoxicated is a 0.08. And what it does, it basically shifts your vision, to the right or to the left.”

He noted that the cart was actually the property of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and all the equipment and maintenance, including the hauling trailer and vehicle, were donated. This demonstration was just one of a number of activities throughout the school year aimed to raise awareness of potential dangers to student drivers.

“I usually come in a few times during the school year – a couple of times just to go over a PowerPoint presentation of driving while intoxicated and distracted driving. Also, I come in and teach drug education and I have them go through sobriety testing so that they can see what’s involved in it.”

The students each took an initial trip around the course, then donned the beer goggles for another run, with Trooper Brendel riding shotgun and doing his best to imitate a distracting passenger. The students also attempted backing through the course.

It should be noted that no animals were harmed during the reporting of this story – however, quite a few cones were.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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