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NEWS | Sept. 26, 2008

Save a Life Tour aims to prevent drunken driving

By Patrick Desmond 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

Lackland Airmen learned first hand how alcohol impairs driving during the Save A Life Tour; the high-impact alcohol awareness program featured a drunken driving simulator and testimonial video at Mitchell Hall Sept. 16.

The drunken driving simulator gave users a sober perspective of drunken driving and the effect of different intoxication levels on peripheral, depth and tunnel vision, said 37th Training Wing Safety Superintendent Senior Master Sgt. Michael Neff.

"There are not many opportunities to gain hands-on experience, and the interactive nature imparts a new awareness of alcohol. It's a sober view of how drunken driving works. You can talk about something like this but physically experiencing it is something else," event coordinator Sergeant Neff said.

The driving simulator allowed Airmen to interact with a progressing change in driving ability starting at a level of zero intoxication to a maximum level of an estimated .34 blood alcohol concentration.

"[The simulator] drives like normal until about [level 10] where it began to be impossible. [Except for] the sensitive speed and brakes, it was pretty realistic," Senior Airman Matthew Ney, 346th Test Squadron, said of the simulator.

The simulator serves as a safe, preventative measure to inform drivers of the real-life consequences.

"It just shows that you can't do what you can normally. After the [10th level] I was done and ended up in a building," Airman Ney said.

The Save A Life Tour also included a presentation led by Brian Beldyga and testimonial video of people directly affected by driving under the influence of alcohol.

"I have gory DVDs, and I have horribly acted [DVDs] where people are trying to act like they are drunk. I have to throw out the goriest thing I have to keep anyone's attention these days," Mr. Beldyga said.

Mr. Beldyga prescribed a method of expressing relevance to impact an audience, relating dangers of drunken driving to the danger people associate with skydiving.

"Have you guys ever been skydiving before? Last year, 62 people died worldwide from skydiving; 42,000 people died from drunk[en] driving," Mr. Beldyga said.