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Students get ‘eye-opening’ experience

Krystle Wagner • May 18, 2019 at 2:00 PM

NORTON SHORES — Some area students had a chance this week to experience a virtual aspect of the dangers of impaired and distracted driving.

On Wednesday, Western Michigan Christian High School students participated in the event through the International Save a Life Tour, which is a safe driving awareness program. After a schoolwide presentation in the morning, the students spent the rest of the day trying impaired and distracted driving simulators.

The simulators and presentation are funded as part of a grant through the Michigan Office of Highway Safety and Planning, which allowed the event to take place at Western Michigan Christian, Mona Shores, Muskegon and Orchard View high schools.

“It was pretty eye-opening,” WMC freshman Thomas Vandermolen said.

As her classmates tried to respond to text messages while operating the virtual car without crashing or going off the road, freshman Zoe Vanderstelt said it looked “intimidating,” and it’s scary that people actually text and drive.

The simulators give students a chance to experience it as participants and see the impacts it has on classmates as they try the simulators, freshman Raina Luhring said.

While some students haven’t yet taken driver’s training, Vanderstelt said she thinks it’s a good idea to take the pledge before they get behind the wheel.

After getting behind the wheel of the virtual reality impaired driving simulator, sophomore Mason Goorman said, “It was crazy.” He thought the simulators were beneficial for him and his classmates. 

“Impaired driving seems dumb to do,” Goorman added.

Sara Trombley, a school resource officer with the Norton Shores Police Department, said she hopes students will take driving more seriously. Taking your eyes off the road for one minute could result in not seeing another vehicle running a stop sign or a pedestrian stepping into traffic, she said.

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