Airmen learn consequences of drunken driving

USAF photo: Airman 1st Class Evelyn Chavez Airmen gather around the drunken driving simulator during the national Save a Life tour at The Landing. The simulator allowed airmen to experience the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol.

By Gabriel Monte: Cannon Connections

Staff Sgt. Adrian Wilson swerved on the street hitting curbs on both sides of the road before she managed to straighten her vehicle. As she kept driving, her control over the vehicle didn’t get any better, the car took longer to stop and turns became out of control.

It was as if her car was drunk.

Wilson and four other airmen were operating a drunken-driving simulator at the Landing on Tuesday provided by the Save a Life tour.

“I wanted to try it to see how realistic it would have been,” she said.

As part of a seminar against drunken driving, more than 500 airmen watched videos and listened to personal accounts of how drunken driving destroyed lives.

Staff Sgt. Paul Shelvik said he would have liked more gory footage added to the videos that included images of bodies torn in half or badly burned.

“If the videos were more graphic, it’ll be more in their minds,” he said.

“It might actually scare people more, keep them from wanting to witness this first hand and take the keys from their friends more often.”

He said rhetoric against drunken driving is posted on walls and brought up during end of the week safety briefings. But he said it’s still not common sense if more than 25,000 people die from drunken driving collisions.

Master Sgt. Charles Siroin, the liaison between the tour and the base, said the seminar is mandatory for airmen 26 years old and younger. But he said the tour is well received because it includes videos and the simulator, which looks like an arcade game.

The machine approximates the effect of alcohol while driving, which rises as the game progresses, according to tour manager Chris Geysbeek

The simulator is not meant to train people to drive while intoxicated, he said.

“I’ve yet to see someone do this without more than likely getting pulled over,” he said. “If they can do it here and still fail, why would they try to do it in real life?”

Geysbeek also shared his story of how he stopped drinking and driving when drunken drivers killed two of his friends.

“That’s pretty pathetic that it took me my best friend … to carry a (casket) like that … to not drink and drive,” he said.