Save a Life: Drinking and driving simulator tour begins in Europe
November 13, 2009
- The multi-million dollar drinking and driving simulator is making its way to schools and military units across Europe
- Save a Life Tour is an alcohol-awareness program designed to educate people about the dangers associated with drinking and driving
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Spc. Ottonio Fletcher couldn't explain why he lost complete control while driving a multi-million dollar drinking and driving simulator as part of the Save a Life Tour Nov. 5, at the Kaiserslautern Community Activity Center on Daenner Kaserne.
"The car was drunk," said Fletcher, from Headquarters Company, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, giving the best explanation that he could.
Save a Life Tour is an alcohol-awareness program designed to educate people about the dangers associated with drinking and driving, said Heather Robinson, the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's alcohol and drug control officer, who is coordinating the tour for USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg communities.
First time overseas, the tour will educate Soldiers and high school students in Kaiserslautern until Nov. 18. It will then travel to Mannheim Nov. 19-21 and Heidelberg Nov. 23-25 before continuing its seven-week run at Army installations throughout Europe.
Each presentation of the tour begins with a 10-minute video "Red Asphalt V" projected on two 10-foot screens blaring gruesome images of real-life tragedies and heart-wrenching testimony of those left behind to deal with the aftermath.
"The video that they showed - people who have died from drinking and driving - really brought it home for me," said Staff Sgt. Dennisur Thompson, from Headquarters Company, 21st TSC.
After the video presentation, Chris Geysbeek, one of two managers with the European Save a Life Tour, talked with the 50 to 60 Soldiers attending this first training session.
Standing in the middle of banners with grave messages such as "Drinking and Driving Kills," the first thing Geysbeek said, "We are not here to preach. We want you to be there for your friends."
Near the end of his almost one-hour presentation, Geysbeek recounted being there as his best friend - since they were both 2 years old - being killed by a drunk driver, throwing him off his motorcycle, and sending him flying 400 feet before he finally landed.
"My hope is that because of this presentation one person will be able to step up and take the keys from their friends," he said after recounting the death of his best friend.
Andy Tipton, the other manager for the European Save a Life Tour, said everyone who works for this company has been affected by drinking and driving.
Funded by the Army Center for Substance Abuse Programs, the Save a Life Tour also includes in its presentation an open casket, earmarked for the next DUI victim.
Now taking center stage was the 185-degree driving simulator equipped with a seat, dashboard with gauges and a speedometer, emergency brake, ignition, steering wheel, turn signal and air bag. This driver's side of the car replicates the inside of a 2001 Ford Impala.
With 85 real-time miles, the simulator contains 23 scenarios ranging from city to urban road conditions. There are also scenarios which include weather conditions such as fog and snow, as well as night-time driving situations.
Fletcher's explanation about the driving simulator being drunk was right on the mark, Tipton said.
"The alcohol delay people normally experience while drunk is now inside the car instead of the driver," Tipton said. "So the commands between the brake, gas and steering wheel are going to be delayed."
Bellowing out "DUI level has been increased," the 1,000-pound simulator can go up to 11 levels with a blood alcohol content of .34.
Soldiers who exited the simulator agreed that it gave them a more realistic understanding of what driving intoxicated feels like.
"I'm completely sober, but I couldn't control the way or timing of how it turned," Fletcher said.
"When the levels kept increasing, it actually felt like I was drunk," Thompson said. "It made me want to focus just on the road and not look left or right. I was trying to drive straight."
That is exactly what a drunk driver does to avoid being stopped by the police, Tipton said.
For more information on the Save a Life Tour, visit <a href="http://www.savealifetour.com">www.savealifetour.com.</a>
Schedule for European tour:
Kaiserslautern: Nov. 5-18
Mannheim: Nov. 19-21
Heidelberg: Nov. 23-25
Hohenfels: Nov. 30
Grafenwoehr - East Camp: Dec. 1-2
Grafenwoehr - South Camp: Dec. 3-4
Schweinfurt: Dec. 7-9
Bamberg: Dec. 10-11
Ansbach: Dec. 14-16
Baumholder: Dec. 17-18 and 21-22