Alcoa High School students learn about impaired driving ahead of prom

ALCOA (WATE) – Many teens will be enjoying their prom this month, including students at Alcoa High School. But to make sure students have a night full of fun and not tragedy, law enforcement is giving them a first hand experience with impaired driving.

The Alcoa Police Department held their annual campaign for prom awareness on Friday, where juniors and seniors got to test out different scenarios of being impaired.

“Prom is just a fun night when all the friends can get together, come and dress up nice, go out to eat. But of course with the parties afterward, be safe,” said Austin Porter, a senior at Alcoa High School.

A split second is all it takes for impaired driving to change a person’s life. Students quickly learned that reality when they strapped on a pair of fatal vision goggles and hit the road on drunk buster karts.

Lt. Keith Fletcher, with the Alcoa Police Department said, “They’re going to see that by running over cones, we’re going to simulate that that could have been a person, that could have been another car that you just hit.”

Navigating the course isn’t as easy when you’re drunk.

“They simulate different impairment levels,” said Fletcher. “They do want to experiment, it’s a big occasion. They think, hey this is one of the biggest nights of my life and I want to really have a good time.”

As officers demonstrated, too much of a good time can be dangerous. Simply buckling up can save a life. Students get to test out the Seat Belt Convincer to see what a 5-7 mile per hour crash would be like.

Porter said, “You really need it to survive a car wreck. Even if it’s a 5 mile per hour car wreck, it still will hurt. A seat belt will save your life.”

It’s Austin Porter’s senior prom and he’s prepared to make Saturday night one to remember, literally.

“Make sure that you don’t get in a car afterwards and drive. Make sure that you don’t do anything stupid that gets yourself hurt or killed,” said Porter.

Officers hope students will walk away from this experience, learning how to stand up and say no to drugs and alcohol.

Friday’s experience was the first time the drunk bust pedal karts debuted in East Tennessee. The Alcoa Police Department plans on using the karts to show more students and people about the dangers of drunk driving.

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