Students and others were given the opportunity to step into the shoes of a drunken driver on Wednesday. Illinois Central College's student lounge was the site of a stop on the "Save A Life Tour," a government-sponsored effort to promote awareness of the dangers and consequences caused by intoxicated drivers.
Students and others were given the opportunity to step into the shoes of a drunken driver on Wednesday.
Illinois Central College's student lounge was the site of a stop on the "Save A Life Tour," a government-sponsored effort to promote awareness of the dangers and consequences caused by intoxicated drivers.
The event, organized by ICC's Campus Activities Board, or CAB, included a drunken driving simulator, which emulates the interior of a car and presents a virtual driving course on video screens.
Passers-by who gave the machine a try were able to step into the driver's seat and drive through a virtual neighborhood while attempting to avoid crashing or being pulled over by the police. The simulator calculates the driver's age, height and weight, and makes the driver increasingly "drunk" by altering the way the steering wheel and other controls affect the drive.
Jessica Berkke, a student who tried the simulator, said it was quite effective at making her feel the disorientation of being intoxicated.
"You stop faster than you think you do . . . it's just really weird," Berkke said. "It got to the point where I didn't even know what I was doing."
Jen Myers, who helped organize the event as a member of the CAB, said the simulator causes the driver to exaggerate his actions and overcompensate, much like a drunken driver would, calling the experience "kind of like when you're driving on ice."
Myers went on to say that many people who tried the device learned the important lesson that driving drunk isn't easy.
"I think when they walk up, they pretty much just think it's going to be fun, it's going to be a game," Myers said. "They start doing it and they realize it's harder than they think."
In addition to the simulator, video screens nearby displayed presentations about drunken driving and the lives it affects, including an interview with Jacqueline Saburido, a woman disfigured in a crash with a drunken driver.
"Some of the people watching the videos were having a hard time," Myers said.
Brandon Carpenter, CAB's president added, "It shows them that they're not invincible."
A nearby casket reminded visitors of the ultimate consequence of driving while intoxicated.
Driver safety is an especially serious issue in Tazewell County, where a spike in teen driving deaths in 2005 and 2006 contributed to demand for the graduated driver's license system in Illinois, which went into effect at the start of 2008.
Carpenter stressed the importance of continuing to keep young drivers in central Illinois and elsewhere aware of the risks.
"Even if it just affects one person, then that person can carry on what they learned to their family and their friends," Carpenter said.
Rob Dale can be reached at (309) 686-3251 or email@example.com.