Driving lesson

LaFargeville students receive a virtual lesson on impaired driving | Education

LAFARGEVILLE — The international Save A Life tour stopped at LaFargeville Central School Tuesday morning in an effort to expose students to the dangers of impaired driving.

Students tested what it’s like to drive drunk and text, and how dangerous each can be, all from the safety of the school gymnasium.

The Save A Life Tour is a comprehensive, high-impact safe driving awareness program that informs, educates and demonstrates the life-threatening consequences resulting from poor choices made by the driver of a motor vehicle.

The program places particular emphasis on the following driving situations: distracted driving, impaired driving, driver experience, inappropriate driver behavior and seat belt use.

“Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen such an attachment to electronic devices,” said Sarah H. Perretta, a high school English teacher, attending the visit with her students Tuesday morning. “Even when they (students) enter the classroom, they are still on top of them from the hallway, which is allowed, and they find it difficult to put them down.”

The Save A Life Tour uses several education methods, including video and oral presentations, interactive demonstrations with simulators, before and after surveys, and suggestions, including a pledge card and wristband.

Tuesday’s tour included two simulations, one for impaired driving, in which students wore virtual reality glasses, and another for texting and driving, in which a computer sent text messages to which students had to respond while they “drove” using the simulator.

According to high school principal Steven M. Newcombe, the school hosted the tour a few years ago and will definitely be bringing it back in the future.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to see reality and what they could do and what they couldn’t do in a car,” he said. “I think other schools should definitely take a look and keep not only our school kids safe, but also our community.”

About 120 students in grades nine through 12 participated on Tuesday.

The tour was made possible through a partnership with the Stop DWI program and select local donors, making it completely free to the district.

The school also worked with Pivot, which is already a district partner, to be at the school to distribute more information.

The Save A Life International Tour also visited South Jefferson High School on Friday. The tour is the same program used by the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as the Connecticut and Missouri Departments of Transportation, Michigan Traffic Safety, Tennessee Traffic Safety, New Hampshire Children’s Hospital and Moreover.

Chelsea K. Russell, an 11th grader at LaFargeville, said she felt the drunk driving simulator was a lot harder than texting, though she wouldn’t recommend students people to do it in real life.

“It’s important because you’re risking the lives of other people behind the wheel,” she said. “You never know who is driving drunk or not, so you always have to be careful.”

Grade 11 student Grace M. Wainwright said the drunk driving simulator made her feel nauseous. Although she also did better with the texting simulation, she won’t do it on the road, noting that she almost hit someone in the simulation because she wasn’t paying attention.

“Protect yourself and other vehicles,” she told those on the road.

Being on the roads and driving with her learner’s license and soon with her licence, she thinks this tour has helped her remember to be more careful while driving.

Having personally visited more than 100 schools with the tour so far this year, tour director Corey A. Parlmer noted that before trying the simulators, students seemed overconfident that they would do well with them. He said that tends to be the reaction he gets at most schools – students think they can do it easily and they tend to find it’s not as easy as they thought.

“I can’t speak to the impact, as I’m not here for the consequences, but I believe my program has a lot to offer these students,” he said. “It’s just a good awareness for students to see it beyond their local population, an awareness that we can give them that they don’t necessarily understand.”

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