Law enforcement students at Pebble Hills High School saw first-hand the effects alcohol has on driving and what happens when texting behind the wheel.
As part of the class curriculum, instructor Rod Liston borrowed simulators from the El Paso Police Department’s Save the Community Program for students to use.
The simulators included video games that give the sensation one was drinking and driving; special goggles worn while trying to walk a straight line; and dark wrap-around glasses worn while driving a three-wheeled cart and attempting to go through an obstacle course.
“I wanted them to see how dangerous it is to drive while drunk or distracted while texting,” Liston said. “These kids are getting ready to get their driver’s license. This was the perfect opportunity for them to learn what not to do from the start.”
The challenge was a wake-up call for the 350 teens who participated. Many of them were surprised at how much coordination you lose if you drive drunk or how inattentive you are when you are texting or on the mobile phone.
“It was so hard,” said Julieta Moreno, a 10th grader who failed at walking a straight line with the goggles. “It was supposed to be easy, but I failed. I will never drive drunk or text while driving.”
Eleventh-grader Luis Rena tried the video, but found it blurred his vision. It was hard for him to see clearly.
“It was so scary,” Rena said. “No wonder there are so many accidents. You really lose control.”
Lt. Steven Schmidt, with EPPD’s Special Traffic Investigation, said teens drive faster and have less experience. Lately, there have been enough accidents and fatalities involving teens that it has become a concern among law enforcement officials. The safe community program has been visiting schools and showing students the simulators.
“Those are two factors, speed and inexperience, that make it even more dangerous,” he said. “That is why we target teens for this program.”
Kevin Salazar, 16, has his license and drives to and from school. He tried the video game and thought it would be easy.
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