Lehigh Valley Health Network wants high school students to know the dangers of distracted or impaired driving.

Through a new computer driving simulation program, students can witness first-hand what it's like being behind the wheel when you are under the influence or are not paying attention to the road while driving. Three of these programs were purchased by LVHN through the Drs. Joseph and Rose Mattioli Endowment Fund for Continuing Excellence in Trauma Care, and the Fleming Trust.

Bill McQuilken, trauma prevention coordinator for LVHN, presented the program to the Carbon County Safe Kids recently, during the group's annual awards luncheon.

The program, which looks like a computer game complete with a working steering wheel and gas and brake pedals puts the student in control of the simulated vehicle.

When the simulation begins, the driver can choose to drive with no impairments; drive drunk; or drive distracted. He then enters information about himself and his driving habits.

Following the brief survey, the driver is transported to the driver's seat of the vehicle and begins the course. He must maneuver through a town while trying to avoid hitting obstacles, such as other vehicles, pedestrians or buildings; all while either under the influence or being distracted by texting, music or other things.

The simulation also provides the driver with realistic scenarios about what happens when you drive drunk or distracted.

If the driver gets into an accident, a real-life scene plays out of going to the hospital, getting worked on by hospital staff and then getting arraigned and sentenced in court.

If the driver gets pulled over by police, a road test to see if they are under the influence is performed, and an arraignment and sentencing occurs.

Members of Safe Kids, including Pennsylvania State troopers, tried the simulation and found it to be quite accurate.

McQuilken said that this simulation program is open to any high school that would want to teach students about being focused behind the wheel of a vehicle.

High schools interested in making an appointment for representatives of LVHN to conduct a program at the school can contact McQuilken at (610) 402-9047.