Simulator at Wheeling Park High School Drives Home Dangers of DUI

Photo by Jessica Broverman Wheeling Park High School sophomore Louie Aulick takes his turn Monday in a simulator that mimics the effects of driving while intoxicated.

More than 100 Wheeling Park High School students are taking part in the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration DUI Simulator Program this week.

Driver’s Education teacher Keith Phillips said this take on education contributes to success in the course.

“I think it’s something different and it’s something the kids can learn from and learn about the effects of alcohol,” Phillips said.

Thousands of students across the U.S. have participated in the program since 2010. The two-day course is being used as a platform to discuss other negative driving occurrences, such as the usage of drugs or texting and driving.

According to coordinator for the event, Dan Pickens, students are often very open-minded to the DUI simulation.

“Just like every other school, the kids are usually very receptive because it’s something different,” Pickens said.

“It’s a different approach, rather than sitting in a classroom and reading a book. They actually get to be a part of it, so I think the reception is a little better than the traditional type of classroom setting,” he added.

Pickens believes the simulation is a wake up call for students.

“They didn’t understand that it was that difficult until they did it. They didn’t realize how much reaction time they lose and how bad your hand skills get. That’s the biggest comment I hear,” he said.

The students begin the simulation as a sober driver with the simulation slowly increasing the blood alcohol level, which is displayed on the screen. The increase causes students to make mistakes, such as striking fences, animals and pedestrians.

Sophomore Adam Marquart will be going through the simulation for the first time this week.

“The person that just went got to being legally drunk and he just went right off the road, so I am curious to see how that is. Anyone that would go through this, I think, would be deterred,” he said.

Sponsors of the simulation include State Farm, the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association. Noah Mull of State Farm in Elm Grove spoke with students about safety and statistics.

“We talked about different things that cause accidents for teens like texting and driving, which is the number one cause of teenage auto crashes,” Mull said. “The main cause of teenage deaths is auto crashes.”

“The main message I wanted to impart on them was if things happen where your driver has been drinking or you’re are pressured to drink, make the phone call to the parents. They may get upset, but they’ll be much happier knowing you are safe and making good decisions,” Mull added.

The DUI Simulator Program will also be utilized at The Linsly School in Woodsdale on Wednesday.

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