By Terrence Echols and Olivia Byrnes
Producers of the Ramfeed
Last year, DeWitt Chief of Police James Hildmann contacted health teacher Melissa Moore to discuss a possible learning opportunity for Jamesville-DeWitt High School students. This new learning opportunity was a driving simulator that portrays multiple driving scenarios such as driving while distracted, under the influence, or without a seatbelt on. The DeWitt Police had the money to buy it, and decided to give J-DHS the first opportunity to use it to help promote awareness of the danger that comes with driving impaired. “We're very excited,” said principal Paul Gasparini; “the goal is to teach the importance of driving with their full senses.”
The simulator has a realistic wheel as well as a seatbelt and gas/brake pedals. Instead of a mirror, the machine has a wide monitor that displays cartoon streets, sidewalks, signs, and traffic lights. “It's similar to a video game,” said Mrs. Moore. The machine has two different modes for driving while impaired. One is the driving while drunk mode and the other is the distracted driving mode. The driving while under the influence mode, combined with the health class drunk goggles, limits the users control of the machine, depth perception, and overall sight in an attempt to simulate someone who is under the influence of a drug. ”When you put on the goggles, everything seems a lot different,” said sophomore Marc Baum. “(Impaired driving mode) is hard because you're not drunk so it reacts differently and makes it very difficult to control,” said Mrs. Moore.
The texting while driving mode is an interactive mode that allows students to receive texts and respond on their own personal cell phone. “I did the texting mode, (and) I'm glad I didn't get any tickets,” said sophomore Adam Honis, who believes not having a ticket made him successful. However he was very cautious while driving in the simulator and still thinks texting and driving is dangerous. Baum agrees with Honis, saying, “even though I didn't crash, it still seems dangerous either way.” On the other hand, sophomores Jackson Brang and Sahil Seth were not successful. “We both crashed,” said Brang who drove using the impaired setting. “The driving while impaired setting is definitely more relevant (with students), and should have a bigger impact on their decisions,” said Mrs. Moore.
The simulator has been available for use since the beginning of the year and will be at J-DHS until the end of October. It will be available for use again at the end of the year for eight weeks. The simulator will travel around to multiple schools in the DeWitt area including Christian Brothers Academy, Bishop Grimes, and Manlius Pebble Hill to educate students on the dangers of driving impaired.
The simulator is is located in Mrs. Moore’s room and available for all students to use during her free periods. Even though use of the machine is optional, she wants as many students as possible to experience it in order to show them the real dangers of impaired driving.