News: Simulators bring drunk driving to life
Story by Lance Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. – Residents aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico had a chance to experience the dangers of drunk driving with help from the Save a Life Tour presentation at Little Hall on Nov. 28.
Now gone are the days when a tall police officer with a shiny badge tries to scare people into listening. The Save a Life Tour is a high-impact alcohol awareness program. The program brings an up close and personal approach to drinking and driving awareness, with tragic videos, personal stories of the loss of loved ones by peers and a sobering drunk driving simulation experience.
“Our main goal is to provide awareness to our Marines,” said Nicole Kirven, Substance Abuse Prevention Program manager, Headquarters Marine Corps. “Drunk driving is high risk and if people are going to drink, they need to think of their low risk options. They need to ask themselves, ‘why am I drinking in the first place?’”
Many community support programs and services, such as Families OverComing Under Stress and the Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center, were in the lobby of Little Hall welcoming everyone attending the presentation. They provided education and information on the causes and effects of the misuse and abuse of alcohol and drugs, as well as places to go for further education or help.
A 24-minute long video presented a graphic look at the dangers of drunk driving. They warned the audience that the video would have a lot of blood and gore. Anyone who didn’t think they could handle the images, was allowed to step out until it was over. After the video, the presenters spoke about their personal experiences with alcohol and the aftermath of alcohol-related incidents.
“You don’t get a bronze star or purple heart for drinking and driving,” said Andrew Tipton, Save a Life Tour manager. “If you’re lucky, you’ll get jail time and a huge fine. But realistically, it’s not about what you get. It’s about what a family has to go through because you killed their child when you crashed into them while driving drunk.”
What this program is mainly known for is its simulator. According to Tipton, their drinking and driving simulators are the only ones in the nation that give participants a completely realistic, clear-headed perspective on the effects of driving while intoxicated.
“It was really fun driving in the simulator,” said Cpl. Kirk Syros, customer service clerk, Finance, Headquarters and Service Battalion. “It definitely helps people understand that, when you add to the dangers on the road with alcohol, it equals a bad night. Overall, this was what we needed as Marines. A true, interactive, in-your-face, no-holding-back presentation to get the Marines out from behind a wheel and into a bed after drinking.”
The simulator included a driver’s seat, three screens that provide a 180-degree field of vision and images in the rear-view mirrors. The simulation started off easy with small turns and barely any traffic on the road. Then the difficulty level was raised by including more traffic, harsh weather, aggressive drivers and simulated raising the driver’s point alcohol level from 0.5 to 1.2.
It was clear to see that the drivers were unable to stay in their lanes, brake properly or assess an area accurately before pulling out into it. This resulted in the police pulling them over or them crashing into an object or another vehicle.
“If we can reach the military members on base and save at least one life, then all of this work here today was well worth it,” said Milton Young, Alcohol Substance Abuse Prevention specialist, CSACC.
For information about the Save a Life tour, visit www.savealifetour.com. For information on the dangers of illegal drugs and alcohol abuse, call CSACC at 703-784-3502.