WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — New drivers have a lot to learn about what to do to stay safe on the road. They also need to learn what not to do before getting behind the wheel. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller checked out a program on Thursday that is aimed at protecting our youngest drivers.
Before Palrika Kasondra applies for a Pennsylvania driver learner’s permit, she’s learning what can go wrong behind the wheel when you’re impaired. The 17-year-old sophomore is among the Coughlin High School students trying her hand at an impaired and distracted driving simulator. “I just tried to control the car but it won’t let me because you think that you are able to drive but actually you are not,” she said.
15-year-old sophomore David Shmakov faced his own difficulties trying to navigate a tricky course. “There were a lot of people jumping in front of me. Dogs, cars cutting me off.” What he and other students found out is that controlling a car and avoiding a crash isn’t so easy when you’re distracted or impaired. “It’s important because while I drive, everyone risks me driving. If someone else is impaired they’re putting other people in danger,” he said.
Coughlin High School Health & Physical Education teacher James Costello said, “We focus on the beginning learning drivers and adding any type of element like alcohol or other drugs only makes it more difficult for them.”
Those behind this driving simulation say it’s having a real impact. About 90 percent of teens who try it say they will not drive impaired. Students also wore alcohol impairment goggles to feel what it’s like to be under the influence. Coughlin High School freshman Alex Tula said, “I felt like I was walking in a straight line and I really wasn’t and it seemed really blurry.”
A hands-on lesson to get students thinking — before they start driving.
PennDOT, Northeast Highway Safety Program and AAA Mid-Atlantic teamed-up to bring the Lehigh Valley Health Network driver simulator to Coughlin High School.