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Students learn what it's like to drive drunk

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tamaqua Area High School teacher and co-driver Emily Daubert, on left, holds on for dear life while student Sarah Zechner, on right, from West Penn hits a garbage can during the Drunk Driving course…
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tamaqua Area High School teacher and co-driver Emily Daubert, on left, holds on for dear life while student Sarah Zechner, on right, from West Penn hits a garbage can during the Drunk Driving course organized by teacher Jim McCabe at the Tamaqua stadium for all his high school students throughout the day. Students wore dark or blurry goggles while they attempted to manipulate a course of curves, straight lines, cones, or unavoidable garbage can.
Published May 14. 2010 05:00PM

Tamaqua Area High School physical education teacher Jim McCabe held multiple drunk driving course program classes at the Tamaqua stadium for all his high school students throughout the day. In addition to hearing an informative lecture on driving safe, drunk driving, and a list of facts related to drunk driving, students were able to experience what it would be like to drive while being drunk.

Students wore dark or blurry goggles while they attempted to manipulate a course of curves, straight lines, and cones. Of all the students who drove the course, not one student was successful in completing the course without crossing the lines or hitting an obstacle. This event is one of a number of events the Tamaqua Area Student Government Association (TASGA) is promoting during their "Prom Promise" week held this week at the Tamaqua High School.

McCabe stressed many substance abuse facts to all his students. Two out of every five Americans will be involved in an alcohol related crash. The total cost attributable to the consequences of underage drinking was more than $53 billion per year.

On any weekend night, one of every 10 drivers are under the influence of alcohol. Short-term effects of alcohol while driving are distorted vision, hearing, and coordination, altered perceptions and emotions, and impaired judgment. Just about everyone has heard, "Don't Drink and Drive" and "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk." But not as many realize that there are many dangers associated with getting behind the wheel of a car while high on marijuana.

Driving experiments show that marijuana affects a wide range of skills needed for safe driving. Thinking and reflexes are slowed, making it hard for drivers to respond to sudden, unexpected events. Also, a driver's ability to "track" (stay in lane) through curves, to brake quickly, and to maintain speed and the proper distance between cars is severely affected. Research shows that these skills are impaired for at least 4-6 hours after smoking a single marijuana cigarette; long after the "high" is gone. If a person drinks alcohol, along with using marijuana, the risk of an accident greatly increases the danger. Marijuana presents a definite danger on the road.

The goggles the students used only impaired vision. Other senses are also greatly affected by substance abuse and while driving. Students learned that drinking and driving or using marijuana, greatly intensify the complexity of normal tasks. McCabe pointed out to the class, "The life you could save could be your own or that of a loved one."

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