The Clear Lake Emergency Medical Services historically has a very aggressive public education program. We have created a new, and much needed drunk driving prevention program for teens. The program is called,
"Don't Die Needlessly".
Alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance among Texas students. According to the Texas Department of State Heath Services School Survey; 50.5% of students reported that they have used alcohol at some point in their lives. The Boston University School of Public Health reports that every 0.02 increase in blood alcohol levels in minors doubles their risk of being injured in a drunk driving accident. Alcohol-related driving crashes is the third greatest cause of death among American youth. Texas leads the nation in the number of youth fatalities in alcohol related crashes. In 2013, 39.5% of all traffic deaths in Texas were alcohol-related.
As a Paramedic with over 30 years in emergency services; I have seen on too many occasions the effects teenage drunk driving is having on our youth. We need to make drastic changes in this age group. We need to make now! I feel this program may be one way to accomplish these much needed changes.
In the "Don't Die Needlessly Program"; we take the youth and simulate the effects of alcohol on their senses. During the simulation we have the teens wear "drunk goggles". While wearing the "drunk goggles", we have them attempt to drive a golf cart through a driving course. Many find the task difficult to complete. The goggles provided simulate impaired vision at a blood alcohol level that is over the legal limit. Then, we have the teens attempt everyday tasks using their fine motor skills. To do this we have them try things such as catching a ball, and picking up loose change. They quickly learn that their fine motor skills are inhibited.
As a part of the program; we have the students write down the names of 5 people they care about. Each of the names in then placed on a "toe tag". The teens are asked to go back to the driving course they attempted to navigate through while wearing the goggles. On the cones that were used to set up the course; a few are knocked down of course. The teen is then required to place the tag on the cones they had knocked down. The cone is now baring the name of their loved one. Finally, the program ends where students are given an actual field sobriety test conducted by law enforcement officers. The students experience where drunk driving takes you. The teens are informed of legal ramifications and costs.
In the end, the teen is asked to look at the knocked down cones and visualize that each one represents an innocent bystander, and or loved one. The purpose of the exercise is for the teens to realize not only the effects of alcohol has on their bodies; but the emotional, and personal costs as well.