Missoula County Coverage

Oct 5, 2011 9:13 AM by Russ Thomas (KPAX News)

Texting and driving dangers highlighted in Frenchtown

FRENCHTOWN- Listening to the dangers of drinking or texting while driving is one thing, but to go through the experience is another, but at Frenchtown High School students learned about these dangers firsthand on Tuesday.

Many say it's the best way to teach young drivers about being safe behind the wheel without actually taking a drink or texting. It's a safe demonstration that Frenchtown High School Counselor Jake Haynes is happy to bring to his students to raise awareness of drinking or texting and driving.

"It was just an opportunity for us to do some preventative counselings, opportunity for the kids to see what it's really like when these kids are making decisions and hopefully change some opinions."

P.E.E.R. Awareness is an organization that travels around the country setting up simulations just like the one hosted at Frenchtown High School. The simulation involves a real car with very real life scenarios for students that want a clear view of what can happen when you're not sober or aware of your surroundings.

"The way it works is it's an actual car, students will hop in, adjust the seat, and buckle up. They're wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles, that's where the roadway is projected, and we can either simulate intoxication or we'll have them text message as they're driving," event technician Eli Scheele explained.

Tuesday's demonstration is more than just about teaching kids with Frenchtown Coalition Community member Lowell Hochhalter saying that the demonstration was brought in thanks to a substance abuse grant as a way to bring awareness to all in the community

"Our goal is to change the perception in the community of the availability of alcohol, the accessibility of alcohol to underage users."

There are an estimated 17,000 drinking and driving deaths that occur every year in the United States and organizers are hoping the lesson provided in simulation really hits home.

Contact Russ Thomas

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