4-H University offers safe-driving program

Mary Ann Van Osdell  |  6/29/2011 9:09:40 PM

Darrell Reed, of Allen Parish, reacts to what he sees in the driving simulator in a safe-driving class during the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H University June 23 in Baton Rouge. (Photo by Mary Ann Van Osdell. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

News Release Distributed 06/29/11

BATON ROUGE, La. – 4-H’ers experienced firsthand how texting and driving are a dangerous combination at one of the educational programs of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H University on June 23.

More than 1,400 students participated in 4-H University, which was held over three days on the LSU campus. Two hundred attended the driving program.

“We’re not supposed to be having fun,” said Crystal Pichon of Lexlee’s Kids, a child injury prevention non-profit organization. “When you’re driving, you should be bored.”

She listed such driving distractions as loud music, reading a magazine, feeding a friend and drinking out of glass bottles that are dangerous in a collision.

“It’s not just you on the road,” Pichon said. “Drivers are somebody’s mom, somebody’s dad, somebody’s child.”

She explained that driving while drowsy is the same as driving drunk; applying eyeliner is just like the guy shaving, and spitting toothpaste out of the window is “disgusting.”

Pichon emphasized buckling up and offered copies of Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge. “Sign it if you’re serious about it,” she said.

Some students then got to try a simulator and fatal vision goggles.

Darrell Reed, of Allen Parish, said the simulator let him know not to pass cars.

The simulator shows whether the driver sped, used turn signals or slammed on the brakes to calculate how you did getting home, Pichon said.

“I learned when to slow down,” Reed said. “I thought I’d be able to do it, but I hit some stuff.”

Robert Burkhardt, of St. Martin Parish, said he has texted in the past, but kept it short. “This was a good simulation,” he said. “I clearly blew through a stop sign while texting.”

Joseph Doucet, of Vermilion Parish, said he could catch an object with one hand, but while wearing fatal vision goggles that simulate various levels of intoxication, he could not. “It’s hard,” he said. “I was seeing double. It kills depth perception.”

“I can’t say I was planning on drinking and driving, but I still wanted to check it out,” Doucet said.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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