DUI simulator is sobering experience

Sgt. Curtis McCall thought he had it under control.

Seeing the turn ahead, he braked to slow down. Instead, the vehicle came to a complete stop. When the vehicle was moving again, he took a sharp right, accelerated too fast and crashed into the side of a gas station.

Fortunately for Sgt. McCall, it was just a simulation of what can happen when people are driving while intoxicated.

"There was a reaction-time delay," said Andrew Tipton of Kramer Edu-tainment, which presented the Save A Life Tour at Fort Gordon's Gym 3 Monday and Tuesday.

Mr. Tipton explained to Sgt. McCall how his senses were impaired through the simulator. Sgt. McCall said the experience was an eye-opener.

"It's a good simulator. If you are driving like that, no one needs to drink and drive," he said.

That's the kind of response Mr. Tipton likes to hear. He said he often stands behind a curtain and listens to people as they come up to the simulator.

Many admit to drinking and driving. They think that they can handle it and that beating a machine is not a big deal.

Most people are surprised, he said.

The computer simulates different levels of intoxication. Mr. Tipton said it doesn't specify a certain blood-alcohol level because it might give people a false sense that at lower levels they are still in control. The 11 levels of intoxication are designed to mimic behaviors after drinking between one and 30 beers.

This is the second time the Save A Life Tour has visited Fort Gordon. It came for one day last February. Fort Gordon's Navy Information Operations Command sponsored this week's visit.

"We had about 900 people come through," said Vincent Krajcir, the Navy command's drug and alcohol prevention adviser. Army commanders asked that it be extended to two days so that more people could visit, he said.

In addition to the simulator and an open casket, there were other items designed to help get a strong highway safety message across to military and civilian personnel on post.

Richmond County's DUI task force was on hand, as were Fort Gordon's military working dogs. Fort Gordon's fire department brought out its fire safety house.

Reach Charmain Brackett at charmain.brackett@augustachronicle.com.

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