CASSTOWN — To keep students safe well after the bell rings, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office and Miami East High School have teamed up with the Arrive Alive Tour to stress the importance of good choices on and off the roadways during prom season.
On Wednesday, the Arrive Alive Tour organization stopped at the high school to allow juniors and seniors to experience impaired driving scenarios including texting, marijuana use and drunk driving behind the wheel of a Jeep outfitted with road simulators.
“Even if you are using a hands-free device, you are still only using 40 percent of your brain in that communication process. It’s called inattention blindness. Your eyes may be on the road, but your brain is not processing all the information out there,” said Kent Tiedman, Arrive Alive simulator operator.
Tiedman, along with Mallory McKenzie, travel all around the country to educate students about the dangers of impaired driving.
With one student behind the wheel, students were able to watch their classmate navigate the roadways “under the influence” or texting while driving. The results were less than positive as students were “cited” by Arrive Alive coordinators after they exited the Jeep.
McKenzie said the impact on students seems to drive home the message of safety more so than a speaker or lecture.
“We are like a video and a pamphlet so they are doing something. They are engaged fully so we do get a lot of kids interested,” McKenzie.
Senior Brenden Dalton, 18, was “cited” for OVI after failing to drive behind the wheel of the simulator.
“It was hard, definitely,” Dalton said.
Miami County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Roger Davidson, the school’s school resource officer, also set up an obstacle course and outfitted students with “drunk goggles” to experience three levels of impairment to simulate drunk driving using the sheriff’s office’s golf cart.
Dalton donned the “drunk goggles” and drove the golf cart around the parking lot. Dalton struck safety cones as he sped through the course before coming to a stop.
“We always try to ensure safety during prom week. The principal is always worried about us as students. I think we, as children, we make dumb decisions and this shows us how dumb our decisions can be,” Dalton said.
Junior Kearsten Kirby participated and learned what it was like to be“under the influence” of marijuana behind the wheel of the simulator.
“It was crazy, I couldn’t stay on the road. I felt all dizzy and stuff,”said Kirby, after she was “cited” by Arrive Alive coordinators.
Principal Todd Gentis said, “Obviously, not just during prom week, but all the time, we want to make sure our kids understand the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. This simulator is doing that with texting and driving and marijuana and drinking and driving.”
The experience was funded by the Troy Elks, The Troy Foundation and State Farm.
To learn more about the Grand Rapids-based Arrive Alive Tour, visit www.arrivealivetour.com.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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