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Hocking College aims to brake distracted-driving epidemic

NELSONVILLE — Distracted driving is one of the biggest scourges of the road, but Hocking College is looking to beat back distracted driving.

Yesterday, Hocking College paid Unite International to visit its campus to let students experience what it feels like to drive drunk and distracted. Unite brought a driving simulator with them that consisted of a car, video glasses and a program that imitated the conditions of drunk or distracted driving.

In Ohio in 2009, 37 percent of driving deaths were considered “alcohol related,” and the Ohio House recently passed a bill banning texting while driving. It is awaiting action it in the Senate.

“We go around to colleges and high schools and present (the program) to the kids,” said Ryan Nelson, a host for the Arrive Alive Tour. “We’ve had a lot of activity with it today.”

The goal of the program is to show teenagers and children the dangers of influenced driving. The simulator consists of a sober test run where the subject sits in the driver’s seat wearing video glasses and mimics all normal car movements including steering, braking and accelerating.

The second run puts the subject in the situation of someone driving slightly above the legal limit. The simulator also mimics texting by having test subjects look at their phones while participating in the simulation.

“We’ve had an 8-year-old get through the simulator,” said Jacklyn Hopper, another tour host. “Most teenagers fail but some get through.”

“It’s not too difficult — I just swerved a lot,” said Dylan Leddy, a Hocking College student. “It’s close (to what it would be like to be drunk) but not completely accurate.” He also

Leddy added he never texts and drives.

The simulator sat under a tent next to a few video screens that showed a video of a girl who texted while driving and paid for it with her life.

“The video was kinda scary and graphic,” said Aaron Johnsen, another Hocking College student. He added that he occasionally texts while driving, but only at stoplights.

“The simulator was not as hard as I thought it would be. (But) sadly a car pulled in front of me and I crashed,” he said. 

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