Driver safety program, with DUI simulation, held at Red Bank High School

Driver safety program, with DUI simulation, held at Red Bank High School

March 27th, 2014 by Alex Harris in Local Regional News

Wearing special goggles, Red Bank High School junior Tamia Foster leans forward and laughs after attempting to navigate optic-yellow cones in a golf cart Wednesday during the simulated DUI and distracted driving program given by the Red Bank Police Department and Chief Tim Christol. Officer Tim Brown, left, rode with Foster on her test.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

With prom season on the horizon, Red Bank police hosted a simulated DUI and distracted driving program Wednesday at Red Bank High School.

More than 120 students took part in the program, which had students attempt to drive a golf cart through a course while wearing goggles that impair vision and simulate different levels of intoxication. Additionally, students took field sobriety tests.

Students were also asked to drive the course while reading and sending text messages.

The purpose of the event was to allow students a safe venue to experience how drinking alcohol and driving distracted negatively affect reaction time and the ability to drive.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 who are involved in fatal car crashes were described as "distracted" at the time of the crash. For drivers aged 15 to 19 who are involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cellphones. Public safety experts warn that because texting while driving requires manual, visual and cognitive tasks, it is especially dangerous.

Wednesday's exercise, said Red Bank High School Resource Officer Timothy Mann, was aimed at opening students' "eyes as to how bad it really can be if you are distracted while driving, as well as impaired while driving.

"Hopefully we'll reduce the number of people who get into a car with somebody who is also impaired."

Contact staff writer Alex Harris at aharris@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.