Leo Kaytes Ford in Warwick recently partnered with the Warwick Valley High School to show students the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. During their physical fitness classes, over 100 students were able to test out two of Ford’s innovative Drugged Driving and Drunk Driving simulation suits.
Warwick Police Officer’s Michael Kearns and Dave Serviss instructed each student through a mock sobriety test. The officers assessed each student’s level of “impairment” and subsequent ability to drive, instructing them through several tests.
According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. The holidays are a particularly dangerous driving time of the year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over the past five years, an average of 300 drivers have lost their lives in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
Warwick H.S. Principal Dr. Larry Washington addressed the students at the morning’s physical education classes.
He said, “I’d like to extend my thanks to Leo Kaytes Ford on behalf of Warwick Valley High School. I know that our students take to heart what they have learned from experiencing Ford’s Drugged and Drunk Driving Suits, especially when driving over the winter break.”
Ford’s Drunk Driving and Drugged Driving suits have several components that mimic the effects of being under the influence by reducing the wearer’s mobility and coordination. In both suits, neck, knee, and elbow bandages impede movement, while wrist and ankle weights slow reaction times and affect balance. Each suit comes with goggles that produce blurred or tunnel vision that mimics being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Drugged Driving suit also includes a tremor generator to make the wearer’s hands shake.
During their physical education classes, the students also viewed a video recorded by their peers in the film production department. The students filmed the Warwick Athletic Director Greg Sirico testing out the Drugged Driving suit in a Ford Escape on a safety track. He experienced a mock pull-over by Officer Kearns and was instructed through a sobriety test.
“Being in the Drugged Driving Suit was very disorienting. I knocked over several cones and completely failed the sobriety test,” said Greg Sirico. “It is so vital that no one, especially students, ever drives in that condition. There is just no excuse.”
Senior Robert Maslanka was one of the students who tested out the drunk driving suit. He is a member of the Warwick Valley Student Health Coalition and a member of SADD, or Students Against Destructive Decisions, a club that works to help their peers make positive choices, particularly in relation to driving and substance use.
“I thought it was cool to be a part because it gives you a good example for kids my age. Seeing this simulation allows them to make better decisions,” said Maslanka. “Getting to see a live representation is an eye-opening opportunity that we should expand across the county.”
Nicole Agbo, another senior student and member of SADD, said, “I appreciated today’s demonstration because it helped students experience firsthand how limited our abilities are when we’re under the influence. I think every young person should have the opportunity to try out these suits and pledge to never drive while they’re drunk or on drugs.”