Drunk driving simulator raises alcohol awareness

March 10, 2008

Rodrigo Antonio ’08 swerved across two lanes of highway before hitting a car as he tried out the drunk-driving simulator Feb. 25 in the Decker Center Forum.

“I thought I could handle the wheel, but I lost control,” says Antonio, a French major.

The state-of-the-art simulator shows alcohol’s effects on one’s motor skills. The simulator looks like the inside of a car, and as participants drive, it increases the level of intoxication until driving skills are highly impaired.

The simulator is presented to students in high schools and colleges nationwide through the Save-A-Life tour. It came to McDaniel through Late Nights, a proactive two-year program funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, intended to lower the incidences of high-risk drinking.

Andy Wu '06 using the drunk driving simulator.

“We are getting the message out about being responsible. We don’t want anyone getting hurt,” says Grogan Ullah, project director for the Safe School Project on Alcohol Awareness.

Late Nights has, for the last semester, hosted nighttime alcohol-free events like a student art exhibit on the effects of alcohol, provided training for campus resident assistants, and made interactive presentations in First-Year seminars.

Late Nights started as a proactive way to address high-risk drinking on campus. The College’s alcohol statistics are in line with other colleges, according to Counselor Megan Hearron. A fall ’07 survey of more than 300 residence-hall students found that more than 21 percent don’t drink at all.

Late Nights does not supplant the College’s Counseling Services, but supports its initiatives as well as those that come from the Student Affairs office.

The goal is to reduce high-risk drinking by 5 percent within two years. Measurements will be based on campus incident records as well as surveys that ask students to reflect on their frequency of drinking.