POLLOK — Students at Central High School participated in the Arrive Alive Tour on Tuesday.
UNITE’s Arrive Alive Tour is a virtual reality software simulation that’s purpose is to bring awareness of the dangers of drinking and texting while driving to high school students, according to Simulation Facilitators Kent Tiedman and Mallory McKenzie.
“People think they can text and drive, and the kids tend to have a little of that overconfidence about them, so we’re trying to address that and the dangers of drinking and texting while driving,” Tiedman said.
The simulation began with students getting into a parked vehicle and putting on VR goggles. If the student was doing the texting and driving simulation, he or she began by “driving” the simulation car then pulling out their phone and texting a message dictated by Tiedman.
Students running the drunk driving simulation began by “driving” normally until the effects of the alcohol kicked in, little by little. Then all students were handed a “citation” dictating all of the traffic violations they committed during their drive.
“It was like a normal path, but once I started texting, it got harder and harder (to follow),” Brent Barber, junior, said.
Barber received a citation for swerving, driving in the wrong lane and speeding.
Tiedman and McKenzie provided the students with a running list of statistics gathered from various government websites. A few included the following: Drivers are 23 times more likely to crash while drunk or texting, about 28 people a day die from drinking-related accidents daily in the U.S., and there were 109,000 distracted driving accidents in the U.S.
“It just felt weird,” Jose Barboza, Junior, said. “You don’t have control over (the car). You push on the gas pedal, and you don’t think it’s going to go that fast.”
Barboza was simulating driving drunk. He received a citation for speeding, swerving, driving off the road and for collision.
Central High School U.S. history teacher Stacy Fellers also tried the simulator.
“It was really realistic, simulating a blood alcohol content of 0.4 percent,” Fellers said. “You think you’re in control, but you’re really not. I think it’s a really good experience for the kids to have.”
The Arrive Alive Tour travels to schools across the U.S.