By Bonnie HeaterFebruary 5, 2009
By Bonnie Heater/ The Signal
Several groups came together at Fort Gordon Feb. 2 and 3 to drive home the risks of drunk driving.
The central exhibit among several at Gym #3 was the U.S. Navy Information Operations Command Georgia sponsored 2009 National Save a Life demonstrator.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Richmond County Sheriff's Department, Army Community Services, Fort Gordon's Safety Office, Army Substance Abuse program, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center Health and Wellness Center also contributed to the program.
Among the attractions included: the Fort Gordon Fire Department's new mobile training van which is used to teach individuals, particularly children about fire safety; a military working dog demonstration, the Richmond County's High Enforcement Aggressive Traffic team brought out the HEAT vehicle as well as a specially designed vehicle used by the Georgia Driving Under the Influence Task Force. It was equipped with an Intoxilyzer 5000, and a holding cell. "This vehicle gives us greater freedom and a quicker turn around in processing a suspected DUI case," said Sgt. Pete Lamb, a member of the Richmond County DUI Task Force. We can take this vehicle to an accident scene and use the Intoxilyzer 5000 to determine if someone was driving under the influence of alcohol and book the individual right there.
Last year the DUI Task Force processed 860 DUI cases and the Richmond County Sheriff's Department processed 1,500 cases, according to Lamb. The Army Traffic Safety Training Installation Safety Office also invited a team of professional motorcycle racers with their bikes from Charlotte, N.C., to speak about motorcycle safety and personal protective equipment and gear.
The highlight of the program was the high-tech Save a Life Tour simulator. This $1.2 million dollar multi-media drunk driving simulator, allows a person to sit in the driver's seat before three visual screens. It provides a 180-degree field of vision and images in rear-view mirrors as well. The car is programmed to drive like a drunk driver. It looks like you are playing a video game, but you're not. In the 3 A,A1/2 minute demonstration you drive through random traffic and varying weather conditions.
Once you sit down, buckle up, turn the ignition and put the car in drive you are sober, but as you continue to drive the machine announces increases in the influence of alcohol consumption. The driver experiences the dulling effects of alcohol while remaining sober and in a controlled environment.
Brian Beldyga, Save a Life Tour program co-founder, addressed Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians who attended the program after showing a video depicting real accident scenes involving drunk drivers. No actors or special effects were used. The message was often graphic and sometimes difficult to watch.
A real coffin sitting near the screen heightened the messages of the program.
Beldyga has been working with this program for nine years now and continues to be very passionate about its message: "Don't drink and drive and don't let your friends drink and drive."
"Please do not drink and drive and don't let your friends drink and drive," Beldyga said. Everyone who tried the drunk driving simulator received a pamphlet with DUI facts and the top three consequences of DUI as well as a special black wrist band inscribed with words "I'll take the keys."
The National Save a Life Tour program travels across the country to military installations, colleges and universities bringing a sobering perspective of the effects of alcohol on motor skills and reaction time.
For more information about the National Save a Life Tour program call (888) 655-7263 or visit their website: www.savealifetour.net.