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Simulator Lets MCLA Students Try Driving Impaired

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
08:24PM / Thursday, April 05, 2012
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More than 100 students attempted to pass the drinking and driving simulation but only a few were able to survive the entire course.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts gave its students a firsthand  — but safe  — experience with drinking and driving on Thursday.

The school brought in the company PEER Awareness from Grand Rapids, Mich., to provide driving simulations on the school's quad.

A parked Hyundai Accent rigged up to sensors and a laptop let students get behind the wheel and feel what it is like to drive drunk.

The students sat behind the wheel with virtual reality glasses that impaired vision. With a program on the laptop, the student enters his or her body mass, gender and the number of drinks consumed in how many hours, determining a blood alcohol content. From there, he or she attempts to drive through a course displayed through the glasses. The wheel senses the turns while the brake and gas peddle senses the speed.

The courses range from snow and ice to city and rural conditions. The students drove until they crashed while the program counted the number of infractions — from speeding to marked lane violations. This reporter took a turn at the wheel but did not make it far before hitting a pedestrian at 60 mph.

Additionally, the company would put in a zero alcohol content and have the students try to text while driving. More than 100 students gave the courses a try, but only a few made it all the way through.

The goal was to show the real dangers of drinking and driving. The company provided informational handouts as well.

Below is a video NBC4 in Washington made of the simulation.

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