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Students experience impairment and distractions during “simulated” driving

posted Dec 7, 2018, 4:12 AM by Michael Richards
The International Save a Life Tour, a driving safety awareness program presented by Matrix Entertainment of Grand Rapids Michigan, visited Wells High School in mid-October to present information and a bit of reality about distracted and impaired driving.

The day began with a morning presentation to a school-wide assembly followed by students experiencing virtual reality on two simulators, one complete with a distracting cell phone and another that provided the simulation of driving under the influence of alcohol. 

Christopher Rich of Matrix Entertainment first presented information on distracted and impaired driving stressing the dangerous and all too often fatal consequences that can arise from taking one’s eyes off the wheel and not focusing on driving even for a few seconds.  Later, Rich interacted with students throughout the morning and early afternoon as they experienced simulated driving in the gym.  

A junior with the first name of Jack tried the impaired driving simulator.  He said the experience was fun but “hard to do.”  Specifically, he found it hard to steer under the simulated conditions.  Junior Franny Ramsdell, who is also a student representative on the WOCSD School Committee, said that the presentation and experience with simulators “…was really cool because that’s like as real as you can get without actually experiencing it.”  

“We just try to get people to understand the severeness of it, the consequences that are associated with distracted driving…,” said Rich on the importance of this presentation.  Rich added that driving a car can be a very liberating experience but one needs to be wary of distractions that can arise while driving such as adjusting the radio, interacting with passengers in the vehicle and even “distracted” pedestrians walking alongside or crossing the road.  

WHS Student Resource Officer John Riegel organized the International Save a Life Tour’s visit to the school.  He said that WHS students begin getting their driving license in their sophomore year.  He estimates that half of the students at WHS already have driving licenses.

“This is great because it adds onto what we do with John Riegel,” said Health teacher, Nancy Cotty during the Matrix presentation.  For the past three years, Cotty’s Health classes (sophomores), as well as many junior students, have already been experiencing a little of what impaired driving is by wearing special-effects goggles while operating a golf cart in the school’s parking lot under Officer Riegel’s direction.
Driving demonstration at WHS
At center watching a student interact with an alcohol impairment simulator is WHS School Resource Officer (SRO) John Riegel
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