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Students learn dangers of DWI
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
College students soon to go on Spring Break are learning about the deadly consequences of drinking and driving, without downing mixed drinks or putting themselves in danger. The Injury Prevention Coalition of Southeast Texas and Lamar University set up a demonstration today at Lamar to help students see and feel what it's like to drink and drive.
Students put on "fatal vision goggles," which are goggles that distort vision and simulate what it's like to be intoxicated. Then, they attempted to walk a straight line. It's one of the tests officers use to help decide if someone's drunk. With the goggles on, it was nearly impossible to pass.
At another station, students wore the goggles and attempted to drive a simulator. Adonis Bateaste attends Lamar University, and gave it a whirl.
"It was hard. It puts in the delayed reaction for you, and trying to over correct yourself whenever you're drunk driving," said Bateaste. "If that's how it is to drive drunk I'm pretty sure it's impossible."
That's the point the Injury Prevention Coalition wants to drive home to students.
"I think they don't realize what the consequences are when they're in that vehicle," said Department of Public Safety Trooper Stephanie Davis, "until they put those fatal vision goggles on, and they actually wreck out, or they crash with a police officer or crash in a head on, on video."
Volunteers on Segways drove around campus to attract more students to the simulation.
"So we're really hoping that we get as many as last year, if not more than last year, to come over here and pledge not to drink and drive," said Sarah Dupre, a public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation.
Dupre says drinking and driving deaths are on the rise. "In 2013, Spring Break related DUI alcohol related deaths were actually up 23 percent versus 2012," said Dupre.
"So we're trying to tell them that we have other options besides getting behind that wheel," said Trooper Davis. "You can designate a sober driver, you can call a cab, or stay where you are. But we want to get the point across that if you're under 21 you shouldn't have alcohol at all."
A sobering message delivered safely before students head out for Spring Break.
"Don't drink and drive," said Bateaste.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 25,158 DUI-alcohol crashes in Texas in 2013. Fifty-seven percent of those crashes involved drivers between the ages of 17 and 34.