Students learn DUI danger in high-tech simulator

Dunmore, W.Va. – The West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and State Farm Insurance funded the purchase of a drunk-driving simulator, which utilizes technology from the Army’s Abrams tank simulator. On Friday, ABC instructors brought the device to PCHS.

PCHS sophomore Rebecca Anderson parked her simulated car after having an accident.
“Well, apparently you don’t want to be with me in a car when I’m drunk,” she said. “I over-corrected so many times that I went off the road. I collided with one car and I swerved to avoid a biker and, then, when I dead stopped, he ran into me. I just gave up, but I didn’t make it that far down the road.”

Junior Nick Solliday says some students don’t take the training seriously.

“From my personal opinion on this, I think some students are actually taking this as a joke, becasue you hit a person, ‘haha,’ laugh all about it,” he said. “But I took this really seriously because, I mean, it happens in the real world. You’re just this innocent person and the next thing you know, someone recklessly comes over and hits you.

“Well, I think it’s actually worth the effort because there are actually some students who want to know what it’s like to actually be behind the wheel without actually hurting someone. So, this gives them the opportunity to learn what’s going to happen if they are on the road behind a vehicle drunk.”

PCHS driving instructor Kay Wylie says students were having fun and learning at the same time.

“For the most part, those that have been in there and experienced the actual simulation, when they come out, it’s like, their comments are, ‘wow- I’m not going to drink and drive.’ Some have found it to be more favorable of a game, but that’s typical for teenagers this age. But, on the most part, it’s like these gentlemen said, if they can save one or two lives, out of this entire simulated activity, it’s well worth it.”

Local State Farm agent Darren Jackson talks about the company’s commitment to the program.

“State Farm provided the funding for the DUI simulator,” he said. “I believe we have committed $95,000 for the purchase of the trailer itself.”
Jackson says the insurance implications for a young person convicted of DUI are severe.

“If they’re going to be able to get insurance, it’s going to be through the assigned risk program and at an extremely high, unreasonable rate,” he said. “I do believe, if they’re caught without insurance, they won’t have a driver’s license. They won’t be able to drive any longer. Probably jail time.”

ABC enforcement agent Dave Marple says many young people don’t understand the danger of drunk driving.

“Many young people in the state, they just don’t take it as seriously as they should because alcohol’s for sale,” he said. “You can buy it several places in many towns. And that’s what leads the young people, I believe, to think that it’s not serious because you can just go to the corner store and buy alcohol. They forget that alcohol is a drug. It’s a central nervous system depressant and it changes their ability to drive a car very quickly.”

The agent provides some sobering statistics.

“Motor vehicle crashes are the number one reason for deaths in people 16-22,” he said. “Three a day, every day, across this country, and that’s not counting the people that are seriously hurt or injured. That’s just deaths and the number one contributing circumstance in those crashes is driving under the influence of alcohol. That is what’s driving us to do what we’re doing.”

Anderson tells why not driving drunk is important to her.

“Because my parents – they trust me,” she said. “And I feel like, if I was out drinking and driving, they wouldn’t. And my parents’ trust means everything to me. So, if I broke that trust, I couldn’t live with myself.”

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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