Students focus on a big issue at Glenwood Springs High School |

Students focus on a big issue at Glenwood Springs High School

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The little John Deere four-wheel buggy was all over the makeshift road. Injured cones marked freshly with black tire marks were everywhere as Glenwood Springs High School sophomore Maggie Carmer pulled up to the stop sign. She doesn’t even have her drivers license yet.The lights flashed and the siren roared. It was all over.GSHS student resource officer, Guy Ryan, administered road-side sobriety tests on Carmer. She failed.”At this point I would place her under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol,” Ryan told Carmer and her classmates.

But it wasn’t real. It was all just a part of sophomore health-class lesson on how much drinking can affect your ability to drive a vehicle, even if it’s just a John Deere buggy chugging along at a turtle’s pace.”The importance of this program is huge,” Ryan said. “It really illustrates to the students how hard it is to drive at two miles-an-hour, let alone 60 miles-an-hour on the highway in a real car.”Carmer’s poor driving had nothing to do with her ability and everything to do with a pair of “drunk goggles.”Ryan and the health teachers, Sandy DeCrow, Jocelyn Anderson, and Eric Nieslanik, partnered with Ryan to teach the students a valuable lesson about drinking and driving. Students were tested on the makeshift road course they had to complete on the John Deere buggy, donated by Berthod Motors.Of course, the students weren’t allowed to drink any alcohol, but they did have to wear a pair of DUI goggles that impairs the students’ vision, simulating a drunken state between 0.17 and 0.20 blood alcohol level (BAC).”The goggles aren’t similar in the way a person would be impaired by alcohol, but they distort their vision enough that it throws off their equilibrium and makes it hard for them to keep their balance,” Ryan said.Carmer, still smiling after her turn on the buggy, and after failing the road-side test, was impressed and surprised by the experience.

“It was crazy,” Carmer said. “I thought it was going to be easy, but it was difficult just to put one foot in front of the other.”As Carmer attempted to walk the line for officer Ryan, goggles and all, she swayed side-to-side, losing her footing nearly every step.”Is it usually this bad?” asked one student from the class.”Sometimes it is,” Ryan responded.For DeCrow, this program is a fun way to teach the students about a very serious issue.”It’s the closest we can get without actually impairing them,” DeCrow said. “This way we get them out of the classroom, we laugh and have a good time with it, and then we hit them hard with the reality of what goes along with a DUI.”The program is taught as part of the drug and alcohol section of the sophomore health class, DeCrow said. But they don’t only talk about the health factors associated with alcohol and drug use, but about the other consequences to drinking and driving as well.

“That’s the stuff that’s real to them,” DeCrow said. “We talk about, what if you don’t cause an accident or you don’t hurt someone. What about all the other stuff like insurance and losing your driver’s license?”DeCrow had another exercise in which students pulled slips of paper from a hat to choose the way they were going to get home from an evening out. Some of the slips indicated that the student made it home safely, others got a DUI. Others drew slips that read they were involved in an accident after running a stop sign and killed the passengers in the other vehicle.”It’s a very important issue,” DeCrow said. “I hope it’s helpful and I always tell them that at least one thing I teach you will have an impact on you.”She hopes this is that one thing.Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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