Coronado Student Council accelerates Drive Smart effort

       Students at Coronado High School had chances to crash cars, drive “drunk,” deal with police officers and see the inside of an ambulance - all in the friendly confines of their own school. While some of the Coronado student organizers watch, a
student wearing the “drunk goggles” stumbles into an
unseen box on an obstacle course as part of a Drive Smart exercise last week to show how alcholo can impair a driver’s senses.
Westside Pioneer photo
       CHS' Student Council organized the two-day event with the Drive Smart program of the Colorado Springs Police Department Nov. 2 and 6.
       The effort earned praise from Betty Schulmeister of CHS Security, who had helped Palmer High School students with their annual Drive Smart program for four years before coming to Coronado two years ago. “In the past they (CHS) just did the minimum,” she said. “This is much better.”
       Similar kudos came from Police Officer Jeremy Kniffen, a school resource officer assigned to Coronado. “The Student Council did an exceptional job,” he said.
       Student Council Vice-President Parker King, who led the event planning, hopes that the Drive Smart judges think the same way. “We're competing with Palmer [for the high school with the best Drive Smart program],” he said. “They've won every year. We want to put Coronado up there.”
       All students attended an assembly featuring a former high school student who had been in an accident in which he'd driven badly and now is unable to walk.
       During lunch Nov. 2, students could view a car from a past teen-driver accident (police had towed it in), try walking an obstacle course with “drunk” goggles and experience what it feels like to crash at 8 mph (a device called “The Convincer”). An ambulance was open for touring, a radio station was taking seat belt pledges, Mothers Against Drunk Driving had an informational table and a couple of people were dressed like crash test dummies.
       On Nov. 6, the UCCS Public Safety Department brought over its go-cart that can be electronically instructed to respond slowly - similar to the way a driver reacts when drunk behind the wheel. Called the Simulated Impaired Driving Experience, the vehicle was available to student drivers in the auxiliary gym during the lunch periods. The effect seemed unavoidable, as the students, despite their most sober efforts, wound up driving over cones or into the bleachers.
       “It was kind of scary,” said freshman Justin Hays, who's never driven an actual car. “It was like it was steering itself.”
       Another student, Evan Hooton, was impressed with the Drive Smart offerings. “This is cool stuff,” he said. “It makes you think about what you can do.”

Westside Pioneer article