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With golf carts and goggles, NCSU tries to reduce drunk driving

Posted January 23, 2020 6:15 p.m. EST
Updated January 23, 2020 7:01 p.m. EST

— The North Carolina State University police are trying to stop students from driving drunk by giving them a chance to see what drunk driving is really like, although no alcohol is being used.

The event uses goggles and virtual reality which mimics the effects of alcohol on the body. Students, and really anyone, crossing the brick yard on Thursday, was given a chance to try out the activities. Most came away with a new appreciation for alternatives to drunk driving.

“I don't think it's worth it,” NSCU junior Paige Swanson said of drinking and driving.

She donned a pair of the “Beer Goggles” – glasses that mimic the body's reaction to alcohol – and took a golf cart for a drive. She hit multiple cones set up in a track and didn't even finish the course.

“It was hard,” she said.

NCSU student John Leach also took the test.

“I don't drink and drive,” he boasted. His drive through the course was rather uneventful; he hit just one cone. Still, he says he has good reason to never drink and drive.

“I've got a nice truck, and I don't want to mess it up,” he said.

Lt. Brian Whitehurst, of the Orange County Sheriff's Office, uses virtual reality to drive his point home. He has a car rigged with VR attached to the steering, gas and brakes. Sitting in the driver's seat, people can get a better feel for what driving impaired feels like.

Whitehurst explains that drinking alcohol can affect you for hours after you stop consuming.

“Understand what you have to do the next day, or in the next few hours, and take that into consideration,” Whitehurst said. “Think about that before you decide to consume alcohol.”

Swanson exited her golf cart with a new appreciation for sober driving. After seeing how many cones she hit while in a virtual state of impairment, she thinks the time she spent behind the wheel here is well worth it.

“I guess it's a good way for students to see what happens if they do decide to drive when they are drinking,” she said.

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