The Bayonet

Tuesday, Sep. 02, 2014

Save A Life Tour warns on driving dangers

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Save A Life Tour warns on driving dangers

By STAFF SGT. STEVEN A. LIVINGSTON steven.livingston@bayonetandsaber.com

The Fort Benning Army Substance Abuse Program hosted the Save A Life Tour at Freedom Hall to educate Soldiers on the severity of drinking and driving, as well as driving while distracted.

The program gave them firsthand simulated experiences of being intoxicated behind the wheel or texting while driving without having to deal with any real-life consequences.

The tour included graphic videos, a drinking and driving simulator, a texting while driving simulator and real-life testimony.

Anthony Lawrence, the tour manager, started the presentation by sharing an experience he witnessed in high school. He experienced loss from drinking and driving and watched as his friend rolled a vehicle three times after a vehicle in front of him was trying to text and drive, resulting in a collision.

"It takes about 4.6 seconds to respond to a text," Lawrence said. "During that time not only are your hands and eyes occupied, but you're not mentally focused on the road either. If a car is traveling at 55 miles per hour, it will travel the whole length of a football field, goalpost to goalpost, in 4.6 seconds."

Soldiers watched a 15-minute graphic video of vehicle collisions and the aftermath. The video highlighted collisions involving alcohol, distracted driving and several motorcycle accidents at high speed.

Soldiers got to see real trauma hospitals providing care to patients and Family reactions to the tragedies.

One of the stories was that of Jacqueline Saburido.

The video starts with pictures of Saburido as a young, healthy and beautiful college student.

After being hit by a drunk driver, she was pinned in a vehicle where she sustained burns on over 60 percent of her body and was left permanently disfigured. She lost her hair, nose, ears and left eyelid in the tragic collision.

Her two friends were killed in the accident. The video drives home the point that not everyone dies in a drunk-driving accident.

"I like how the video not only shows images of fatalities and trauma patients, but it shows the grief loved ones suffer as well," Lawrence said. "These types of collisions affect the whole Family. It shows how Families are being ripped apart by these types of senseless tragedies."

After the video, Soldiers lined up for the chance to experience driving a simulated vehicle with three widescreen televisions placed in a 180-degree configuration to provide a realistic driving experience.

The SALT's multimillion dollar simulators are the only simulators in the nation that give participants a completely realistic, sober perspective on the effects of driving while intoxicated. Delays are programmed into the simulator to mimic the effects of alcohol on the driver.

"The simulator lets you know the real hazards of driving while intoxicated," said Spc. Andrew Freeman, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment. "Some people may think that their driving is good, but alcohol impairs their judgment as well. To experience the same effects while sober should make a person think twice before driving while intoxicated."

SALT developed a distracted driving program due to distracted driving becoming an increasingly large problem on our nation's roadways in recent years.

The distracted driving simulator had an iPhone connected to the simulator. Although there were no delays programmed into the system, the phone would receive a text message every 30 seconds.

"I think we have all had to resist the urge to text and drive," Angela Blount said. "That was crazy. I don't text and drive, but now I am going to harp on my son to make sure that he doesn't do it either. It is just too dangerous."

"Texting and driving has become more dangerous than drinking and driving," Lawrence said. "Every 30 seconds someone in America is injured due to texting while driving."

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