Is a “Drunk Driving” Simulator Helpful?

We Want Everyone to “Arrive Alive”

Michigan is fortunate to be the home of a company that focuses on providing kids of all ages an opportunity to experience the dangers of drunk driving without having to take so much as a sip of alcohol. The driving simulator they use is a great teaching tool, because nothing conveys truth quite like personal experience. And the company provides exactly that—personal experience but without all of the dangerous and often expensive consequences of drunk driving.

Based in Grand Rapids, “Arrive Alive” provides a car that is rigged to function much like a video game, complete with virtual reality glasses worn by the driver. But what the simulator does is slow down the driver’s reaction times to match those of an intoxicated person. This way, in total sobriety, a driver can see what their reaction times would be like, had they consumed enough alcohol to be drunk.

Although the company is based right here in Michigan, they travel to schools and campuses all over the U.S., giving young drivers the opportunity to safely experience the hazards of drunk driving. And texting while driving, which according to one of the Arrive Alive team leaders, is six times more likely to cause a crash than drinking and driving.

According to their webpage, the company arrives on site and is set up and ready to go with hands-on demonstrations from the moment the first bell rings. Students sit in the car, wearing the simulator glasses, and experience drunk driving, or texting while driving, without any danger. There is even a passenger-eye-view screen set up so that other students sitting around the simulator can see what the driver is experiencing.

“When you are drunk, your reaction time feels normal for you.” explained Tyler Herbstreith, one of the Arrive Alive Tour team leaders at a recent campus demo in Centralia, Washington. “You don’t feel any different, but being sober and we’re simulating the reaction time, you can tell how delayed that reaction is.”

In addition, a facilitator is on site at all times, in order to explain the situation, answer student’s questions about drunk driving, and provide current statistics and information. Because sometimes, kids just don’t get it, until they get it. And for a lot of people, learning is a more hands on experience.

Arrive Alive hosts about three or four shows a week around the country. They begin in mid-February and run until the end of May, before breaking for the summer. During the fall semester, their tours start late in the month of August, and stop again in late November.

According to a recent study conducted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), teenaged drinking is actually on the decline. Over the span of a single decade, teenaged drinking went down from 28.8% to 22.7%. But while the decrease is encouraging to parents everywhere, decreased does not mean eradicated. And so Arrive Alive still has much work to do around the country.

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