Student drivers experience real-life distractions in simulator
A backseat driver can be a real distraction, as most motorists will attest.
But soon-to-be drivers at Steel Valley High School on Monday who participated in a computerized driving simulator learned that having 15 of their classmates behind them was nothing compared to coping with the delayed reaction effects of alcohol.
Crowded into a trailer housing the Allegheny County Alcohol Highway Safety Program's DUI Safety SIMulator, students experienced firsthand the multisensory experience of driving. The challenge was one most students could handle reasonably well until the simulated delay effects of alcohol were added to the mix.
“You guys are setting me up for failure,” remarked 15-year-old Ulysses Williams as he struggled to keep the car on the road while dealing with the virtual effect of two drinks.
There were gasps and remarks from the rear like, “He's driving in the wrong lane,” as Williams narrowly escaped a collision with another car, almost hit a dog and followed a school bus at a dangerously high speed before his driving simulation ended badly at the four-drink level.
“It was easy except for when I was drinking,” said Williams, who is studying for a learner's permit.
The simulator creates a realistic driving experience in rural and urban conditions. Students belt themselves into a real car seat before shifting into drive and maneuvering through the course, which is projected before them with front, side and mirror views all included.
From the back of the training trailer, event coordinator Mike Martin from the Pennsylvania DUI Association controls the simulator program from a computer while giving the students tips on safe motoring.
“All young drivers tend to look just beyond the hood of the car,” he said. “You better look down the road.”
His counterpart, Pamela Wahal from the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania Alcohol Highway Safety program, takes her position near the front of the trailer by the driver's seat and offers similar cautionary tips to students.
“You need to watch the road signs,” she told one student. “You need to pay attention.”
The event was sponsored by the Steel Valley Students Against Destructive Decisions group and Allegheny County Pre-Trial Services.
SADD coordinator and teacher Beth McCallister said Monday's exercise was offered to sophomores “because they either have their permits or will be getting their permits soon.”
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- White Oak school starts foreign language academy program
- Retired McKeesport police officer to pay fine for involvement in gambling ring
- Pleasant Hills OKs proposal for Weiss Meats warehouse
- Former Elizabeth Forward custodian’s attorney denies allegations
- Homestead must replace code enforcement officer
- Preservation society sets sights on former landmark McKeesport hotel
- West Mifflin plans to make use of state rent-collection law
- Pleasant Hills plans farm animal ban
- Clairton to write new story of academic improvement
- U.S. Trade commission delays drilling pipe dump sanctions vote
- National Tube Works shuttered in McKeesport