Tour helps teen drivers ‘Arrive Alive’

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BPCC student Miguel Dorsey, 19, takes a drive in a high-tech simulator that educates drivers about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving. The simulator is part of UNITE’s Arrive Alive™ Tour, a program that visits high school and college campuses across the nation.

UNITE’s Arrive Alive™ Tour made a pit stop at Bossier Parish Community College to share a virtual experience with local drivers.

The program uses a high-tech simulator, impact video, and a number of other resources to educate students about the dangers of drunk driving and texting while driving. The simulator allows students to experience, in a controlled environment, the potential consequences of drunk and distracted driving.

Joseph Spears, 18, was among the crowd who wanted to try their luck behind the wheel. Students took turns in the driver’s seat. The wheel and pedals worked as if it was an actual moving vehicle, but the car remained in place. Instead, they wore goggles that displayed a virtual driving scenario.

Then they were given a choice – to text and drive or drive under the influence of alcohol.

Either way, they found out that both scenarios could result in tragedy.

Spears admitted that he has never gotten behind the wheel intoxicated, so he wasn’t quite sure what to expect. He added before entering the car that he didn’t expect things to change once the simulation began.

However, his reaction was quite different as he exited the vehicle. Spears’ drive ended when he hit a pedestrian.

“I was mistaken. You definitely shouldn’t drink and drive,” he said.

Fortunately, it was only a virtual experience. Tyler Herbstreith, team leader for UNITE’s Arrive Alive™ Tour, said the outcome in a real world setting would have been much more devastating.

“This is a simulation to show people the dangers of distracted or impaired driving in a safe environment,” Herbstreith said. “It has been an eye opener for a lot of people. It’s a fun way to get across a serious message.”

As part of the experience, the crowd could see what the driver was seeing via television broadcast. Jacqueline Johnson watched as her daughter, Christina Johnson, swerved all over the video screen, eventually crashing the car on the screen.

After the simulation, students are handed a slip of paper with a list of infractions from their virtual drive.  Jacqueline said she wanted her daughter to experience what it would actually be like, but in a safe setting.

Christina, 19, was glad her mother encouraged her to try it.

“This was not easy so I definitely won’t do it in real life,” Christina said.

Results like that are what fuel the passion for Herbstreith’s work with the Arrive Alive Tour.

“It’s definitely encouraging,” he said. “College students are the perfect age range for learning these life lessons. We’re helping prepare them for the future. We, ultimately, want to get people thinking about the consequences before it’s too late.”

UNITE brings health and wellness programs to high school and college campuses across the nation. Their programs are designed to heighten awareness to the dangers and consequences of drunk driving and distracted driving.

For more information, visit their website at www.arrivealivetour.com.