“Death Experience” cautions students against distracted driving

Firefighters+from+Station+28+in+San+Diego+demonstrated+using+the+Jaws+of+Life+to+rescue+passengers+from+a+wrecked+vehicle
Firefighters from Station 28 in San Diego demonstrated using the Jaws of Life to rescue passengers from a wrecked vehicle

Firefighters from Station 28 in San Diego demonstrated using the Jaws of Life to rescue passengers from a wrecked vehicle

Photo Credit: Jake Smiley

Photo Credit: Jake Smiley

Firefighters from Station 28 in San Diego demonstrated using the Jaws of Life to rescue passengers from a wrecked vehicle

Chelsea Heath, Staff Writer

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             The “Death Experience”, held in the quad in front of the Learning Resource Center on March 21, gave students a perspective on  the consequences of driving while distracted. There were several events in which students could participate in to show them the dangers of both texting while driving and driving under the influence.

              The event has been held on campus for 10 years and typically occurs the week before spring break. For the entire week prior to the break, two cars are placed in the middle of the quad. Both vehicles had been involved in an accident that occured while the driver was under the influence. They are strategically placed to simulate what this type of crash could look like.

               The display will be on campus until March 23, however during the event on March 21, firefighters from Station 28 in San Diego demonstrated using the Jaws of Life on both cars to rescue passengers that may be injured and trapped in a wrecked vehicle. It was an eye-opening experience that took roughly 30-45 minutes to complete. After witnessing the demonstration, student and employee of San Diego Mesa College Brandon Terrell said, “It’s crazy and I’ll never drink and get in a car with someone who drinks”.

               In addition to watching the demonstration, students were also given the opportunity to participate in an activity that simulated driving while under the influence. Students were given three options of goggles called “drunk busters”, each simulating a different level of impairment. They were then asked to walk in a straight line on rows of tape.  The goggles ranged from .08 which is the legal limit, to .2 which was the highest. Sgt. Jeff Hughes from the San Diego Community College District Police Department said, “They don’t simulate everything, for example, you can still make good decisions while wearing these whereas if you were drunk you would not be making good decisions. But it does affect your balance and your vision so it’s to give you an idea of what might be happening if you were at these various levels of impairment.” With a valid driver’s license, students could also try driving a  golf cart while wearing the “drunk busters” around a figure eight course of cones

               Deputy district attorney with the San Diego District Attorney Office, Cally Bright was also at the event. Bright is in charge of the DUI homicide unit, which she explained  is a special unit created about three and a half years ago. She also said that last year, “We had 25 DUI related fatalities, which is an overwhelming amount for our office to handle. Even with the amount of options available to make it easier for people to not drive under the influence, the amount continues to increased. When asked about this Bright said, “I think there are two things that I kind of attribute to that. Number one- I don’t think people really know the amount of alcohol they’re consuming….the other part of it is that more people are using over-the-counter medications, we’re now starting to see more people using marijuana, and as a result of that you combine those with alcohol and most of them have a combined effect.” Bright also strongly advocated that people make a plan before they go out drinking.
Among these other activities, students were also asked to sign a pledge vowing to not text and drive, because driving while distracted could result in the same consequence as driving under the influence. Overall, the “Death Experience” was an informative event that provided students with many reasons not to drive while distracted or under the influence.

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