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Students get drunk drivers education

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By The Staff

By DAMON LAWRENCE

rclawrence@bellsouth.net

Midway High senior Ryan Hargis said he’s never driven a vehicle while drunk.

And after driving an ATV through a makeshift obstacle course wearing a pair “Fatal Vision” goggles, Hargis said he doesn’t plan to.

“If it’s anything like that, then I never want to do it because I hit about three cones,” Hargis said.

Hargis was one of the many Midway students who participated in the drunk-driving drill at school on Wednesday.

The event was organized by local first responders, and the goal was to show students the dangers of driving while impaired.

“It’s a happy time of year,” Midway principal Scott Mason said. “Especially for our seniors and juniors, and we want to make sure they’re making good choices.”

Midway students will celebrate their prom on Saturday and graduation ceremonies later this spring.

Mason said he hoped the students would take something from the drill that might help prevent those happy times from turning tragic.

“I think it’s a good program because it kind of shows you some of the dangers of drunk driving,” junior Krystal Rue said.

Organizers said this was the first year they held the drunk-driving exercise for local students. The ones who participated on Wednesday had all bought tickets to Saturday’s prom, Mason said.

All seemed to enjoy the drill. As part of the fun, some even got to joke around with Sheriff Jack Stockton.

“Next school year we’re hoping to take it into all the high schools in the county,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Daryl Cook, the school resource officer at Midway.

The goggles simulate different levels of impairment. The students wore those goggles as they navigated the ATV in and out of cones on the obstacle course.

Even though she had fun participating in the exercise, Rue said she’d hate to be behind the wheel of a car with the same level of impairment as she had wearing the goggles.

“I don’t think it would be fun if it was a real-life situation,” she said.

Driving around cones is one thing. Traveling one of the county’s curvy two-lane roads with a similar level of inebriation after a night of celebrating is totally different.

“It’s a controlled environment out here on this course, but it’s a different story when you actually get out on the street,” Cook said. “Hopefully this will keep some of them from even trying it.”