Students experience distracted and impaired driving safely – School News Network


Kent CIO — “It was tough,” Grandville High senior Jordan Holliday said as he stepped out of a simulator designed to show what it’s like to be drunk while driving a car .

It was a common reaction for many Kent Career Tech Center criminal justice students who tried out the driving simulators provided by The Save A Life Tour, which stopped there and at Byron Center High School in September.

“At first your vision is distorted and it’s considerably more difficult to maintain control of the car,” said Jordan, a licensed driver. “It’s an opportunity to get a feel for what it’s really like before you get behind the wheel, because it gives you a sense of what it’s like to be impaired.”

Second year Classmates of Owen Vansolkema at the Byron Center cheer him on as he uses the virtual reality impaired driving simulator

“I think it’s really important that students have the opportunity to experience something like this,” said Grand Rapid Police Chief Eric Winstrom, who attended the Tech Center event.

The program focuses on impaired driving, distracted driving, driver experience, inappropriate driver behavior and seat belt use.

According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, in 2020 nearly 7% of Michigan drivers were between the ages of 15 and 20. Drivers in this age group accounted for just over 10% of all drivers in motor vehicle crashes.

Prepare better pilots

“We have 1,400 children in the building and 360 to 400 are in the program today,” said Nathan Clophus, assistant principal of Byron Center High. “More than half of our students will be driving motor vehicles before the end of the year, so if we can get to 400 of them, that’s pretty good.”

Senior Adri Howland and sophomore Andre Rodriguez were the first to volunteer for the driving simulators.

“Vroom vroom, Andre,” program manager CJ Rich said as he stared at Andre’s virtual reality headset.

The impaired driving simulation started and Andre yelled, “What’s the speed limit?” »

Rich replied, “It’s 50 miles an hour…open your eyes, man!” The car is not broken; you are broken.

Thirty seconds later, André’s virtual car left the road.

“It wasn’t the same as driving a car, it was retarded,” he said after the simulation. “It was a good real-world experience of how being late ruins your reaction time. It changed my perspective and (drunk driving) is much more dangerous in real life.

Students were also encouraged to sign a poster pledging not to drive while impaired.

Save A Life Tour’s CJ Rich explains the program during Ann Schuelke’s Health Class at Byron Center High School

Career prospect

For those in the Tech Center’s criminal justice program, the simulations also helped give students a sense of what police see on patrol and why.

“You’ll notice someone driving slower than the speed limit,” Jordan said. “In order to feel like I had some control, I was holding the steering wheel to my chest, so someone with a hunched body is an indication that they might be under the influence.”

Criminal Justice Instructor Ben Hawkins said there was another focus.

“Even if they don’t go into law enforcement, we want them to be that leader who, when faced with a situation like impaired driving, can stand up and get others to do what you have to,” he said.

Journalist Alexis Stark contributed to this story

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