Drunken Driving: Liberty High Students Don Special Goggles to Simulate Inebriation
Carroll County Times

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SYKESVILLE — Liberty High student Claire Gostomski placed a pair of vision-altering goggles over her eyes and attempted to shift a police training vehicle into drive.

She had trouble. The goggles altered her depth perception and made navigating a training course full of sharp turns and orange traffic cones a tremendous challenge.

The goggles are designed to simulate what it is like to be inebriated. Thirty Liberty High School students got a chance to operate a vehicle with the goggles on during a drunken driving awareness session at the state's law enforcement driver training facility in Sykesville.

The event, organized by the Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute, attempted to deter students from drunken driving and featured guest speakers, a slide show presentation and on-course driving.

“If you drink and you think about whether or not [you] should be driving or not, the answer is no,” said Bruce Lohr, a retired Howard County Police Officer during his morning presentation to students.

Gostomski got the message, she said. One lap around the training course was more than enough.

“It's scary,” she said. “I don't ever want to drive like that, ever.”

The students were accompanied by a trainer for the exercise. Senior Max Whittle said the goggles made operating a vehicle much tougher than usual.

Senior Bobby Conlon drove with instructor Ron Rideout in the passenger seat. He struggled to weave in and out of cones while adjusting to the goggles.

“You don't know where things are,” Conlon said. “I think it's harder to see your peripherals when you are driving with the goggles on.”

A few students hit cones. One test vehicle had an orange cone stuck underneath the bumper.

Students at Liberty have been repeatedly warned about drunken driving in health class and in assemblies.

Parents also need to play a role, Lohr said. Children must feel comfortable talking to their parents. If they do drink and ask for a ride home, parents should be willing to provide one.

“Then,” he said, “you can deal with the consequences later. You need to make it a safe environment for your kids and everyone on the roads.”