PENN HILLS (KDKA) – Some students in the Penn Hills School District had an eye-opening experience today.
They were behind the wheel swerving, not able to brake and causing crash after crash.
It was all in a controlled setting inside a safety simulator parked outside of the high school.
“It felt like I was driving honestly, and then things started to get a little crazy and shaking and I was like ‘Oh, time to slow down a little bit.’ It was realistic, that’s for sure,” Christian Harris said.
Harris, 17, is a senior at Penn Hills High School and has his learner’s permit.
He’s been out on the road practicing quite a bit, but today, he took a test drive in the Safety Simulator.
“It’s the dashboard of a car and the students actually get to start the car, turn it on, use the gas and brake as if they’re driving an actual car,” Pam Wahal with Allegheny County Pretrial said.
However, it’s not as easy as it looks especially once the operator of the simulator takes control.
“We can delay their steering and their braking, as if they’ve been impaired by drinking a drink,” Wahal said.
The operator keeps increasing the level of impairment. Eventually, the driver is trying to steer after 10 drinks.
KDKA-TV’s Sarah Arbogast gave it a try and said it was tough.
“This is impossible. It almost makes you feel sick when you’re watching the screen,” Arbogast said.
The Safety Simulator is owned by the Pennsylvania DUI Association. It travels all over the state.
The idea is to get even just one student to make a smart decision.
“I think it’s a great experience for them to be able to see the impairment factor that drinking and driving has on you. So, hopefully they make that better decision not to get in that situation,” Penn Hills Teacher Jacqueline Bair said.
“I think they realize the importance of not getting in the car, not only with their peers, but even with their parents or their older brothers and sisters. You just don’t want to get in the car with anyone that’s been drinking and driving,” Wahal said.