Focus on Students
Save a Life Tour makes Chesapeake College stop

Students say DUI simulator illustrates perils of drinking and driving

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Chesapeake College student Brandon Burch, goes through a DUI simulation while Kramer International presenter C.J. Rich, right, offers driving advice. Rich’s 15-year-old sister was killed by a drunk driver almost a dozen years ago. Photo by Marcie Molloy. 

WYE MILLS – Students racked up a string of DUI citations and fatal collisions, and drove more than their fair share of cars over curbs, onto lawns, and into buildings.

And Chesapeake College officials couldn’t have been more pleased.

All of the driving outcomes were simulated, part of Wednesday’s Save a Life Tour stop at Chesapeake College. The DUI simulator was the centerpiece of the event, which included videos of real accident scenes, DUI checkpoint experiences, and operating room action, and a casket with a sign reading, "Reserved for the next drinking and driving victim".

"Hopefully by simulating the effects of alcohol on a driver’s reflexes and reaction time students understand the seriousness of getting behind the wheel after drinking," said Dr. Barbara Viniar, Chesapeake College’s president.

The simulation experience began with the car’s controls operating normally. As the simulation went on, delays were introduced into the gas and brake pedals and steering wheel to simulate the driving experience at various Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels.

"At first it wasn’t that difficult," said freshman William Gilmore. "Then when they started getting to the drunk-driving part it got really hard." .

"Your reaction time got very slow," said freshman Jenard Turner, whose simulation ended with a fatal collision. "Everything seemed a whole lot slower than normal."

Freshman Jasmine Foster, who died in her simulation after running the car into a house, agreed.

"Your coordination and reaction time was a lot slower," said Foster.

Many of the students found the experience unnerving even as a simulation.

"I’m sweating and I’m nervous and I wasn’t even driving for real," said sophomore Deja Acree, who hit a house during her simulation.

The event, a product of Kramer International, included a presentation by C.J. Rich, whose 15-year-old sister was killed in a drunk-driving accident. Rich had to identify his sister, the passenger in a car driven by a drunk teenage friend, from a tattoo on her arm because she had been "decapitated from the jaw up" in the accident that killed all four people in the car.

"I’ve gone to prisons with parents and watched Moms and Dads fall to the ground and kids cry they want to go home," Rich told one group of students. "What I hear over and over from drunk drivers is ’I wish I could have it over. I wish I could do it again.’ – but you can’t."

The videos, news stories about the effects of drunk-driving accidents, and operating room footage were meant to shock. O.R. footage included doctors drilling into a victim’s head to relieve pressure on the brain, and a still photo showed a drunk motorcyclist whose body has been cut in half.

"The casket on stage got my attention right away," said Brandon Morgan. "That and the graphic video were really hard to watch, but it was an effective presentation."

Most of the participants in the event – which was sponsored jointly by Chesapeake’s offices of student life, student success, academic affairs, and intercollegiate athletics – were Chesapeake College students and students from the Wye River Upper School, which is located on Chesapeake’s Wye Mills Campus. Officials of the Talbot Partnership, Queen Anne’s County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, and Upper Chesapeake Region Traffic Safety Office were also in attendance at Wednesday’s event.

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