By Morgan Bryce
Opelika High School students learned about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving on Wednesday through a program called “Fatal Vision,” a partnership between Alfa Insurance and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Consisting of hour-long sessions, the program lasted from 9 a.m. to noon, featuring discussions about alcohol and its effects. It gave students an interactive way to experience the conditions drunk drivers face on the road.
With equipment for the event provided by Alfa, ALEA public relations office Cpl. Jess Thornton discussed the dangers of drunk driving and demonstrated to students, through the use of impairment-simulating goggles, how dangerous driving under the influence can be.
“We go to local schools across the state,” Thornton said. “Through the use of these drunk goggles, we simulate the drunk driving experience for teenagers in Driver’s-Ed classes or for teenagers who are fixing to get their licenses, which hopefully will deter them from doing that.”
Local Alfa insurance agent Hunter Price, who was working his third Fatal Vision event, discussed how the partnership with ALEA worked and what they hoped to accomplish.
“We work with the school systems in the state to set up the Fatal Vision sessions,” Price said. “Once we do, we provide the Gator and the equipment for ALEA to bring their knowledge to the kids through this event. I look at it like this, if we can save one kid’s life because of this program, then we’ve done our job.”
The first interactive event for the participants was a sobriety test, which tested their balance and ability to walk a straight line. The first attempt involved walking a straight line without the drunk goggles, but on the second try, they were tasked with walking a straight line with the goggles.
Breezing through her first attempt, OHS sophomore Katie Young found walking with the goggles on her second attempt to be quite a challenge.
“Walking with the goggles gave me a perspective on how it feels to be drunk,” Young said. “It makes me not want to drive drunk, because of how disoriented I felt.”
The second interactive event was the challenge of driving a John Deere Gator through an orange construction cone obstacle course while wearing the drunk goggles, and fellow OHS sophomore Toberius Simpson was the first to give it a try.
“Driving with those goggles was strange,” Simpson said. “My eyes were just wandering around.”
With summertime quickly approaching, OHS Driver’s Ed teacher Billy Jones said he felt that the program was timely.
“It helps them, right here getting out at the end of the school year too,” Jones said. “With all the things that go on in the summertime, we’re trying to prevent them from doing things like drunk driving.”