In order to discourage impaired driving this prom/graduation season, Ashe County High School held its annual “impaired driving rodeo” Wednesday morning, giving a first-hand demonstration of the effects alcohol can have on students’ driving.
To accomplish this, juniors and seniors were briefly called out of class and given special goggles to wear that simulate intoxication. Students were encouraged to drive golf carts through a traffic course while wearing the goggles, and also perform other simple tasks like catching a ball or walking in a straight line.
“You can tell them not to drink and drive all you want, but it’s different when they experience this first-hand,” said Tonya Rogers, chair of the prom committee, who coordinated the impaired driving rodeo.
Students were not forced to participate, but they were each encouraged to sign a promise stating they would not drink and drive after prom or graduation.
“At the end of the year, students get really excited because of prom and graduation,” said Rogers. “I hope this scares them.”
According to Rogers, in past years, ACHS hauled in wrecked vehicles driven by intoxicated drivers, allowing students to see the damage up close and personal. Rogers said that usually makes a deep emotional impact on students, but the school was unable to acquire a wrecked vehicle for students this year.
The goggles may not be as intimidating as a wrecked vehicle, but students who participated quickly realized how much they were effected by the goggles.
All around the high school’s back parking lot, juniors and seniors were driving over traffic cones and stumbling around while trying to walk a straight line.
“I think it’s pretty amazing the difference it makes. We’re in our right minds and still can’t do it (drive the course properly),” said Ryan Simms, a student who drove through the course while wearing the goggles.
“As long as we get two or three kids to see how dangerous impaired driving is, that’s better than none,” said Rogers.
ACHS students have participated in this event for approximately eight years now, and Rogers was optimistic about the impaired driving rodeo’s impact.
“I really do think students don’t drink and drive as much as they use to,” said Rogers.
The impaired driving rodeo was sponsored and hosted by theN.C. Farm Bureau.
“This is one of the safety programs we encourage,” said Judy Bare, secretary-treasurer of the N.C.Farm Bureau Board.
Bare said she believes the event helps build awareness for impaired driving among the student body at ACHS.
According to Bare, the first-hand experience students get from this event should help them realize how much their coordination is effected after drinking alcohol, a message that should sink in better while students are sober.
The golf carts driven by students were borrowed from Truiett Weaver and from Brian and Kim Greer, who generously donated the golf carts for the day. Also, volunteers from Farm Bureau joined the students while driving through the course to ensure the safety of the students.