The Presentation That Could Save Lives

Olivia Ramos, Staff Writer

   On February 23rd, seniors of Pines Charter gathered in the River of Grass auditorium, where they would spend half their day learning about the importance of driving sober and the consequences of getting behind the wheel intoxicated. The class of 2023 has been anticipating this day since the beginning of their senior privilege. This is a day of excitement—not only for reaffirming their senior privilege, but also for the infamous drunk driving activities that would take place after the indoors presentation. 

   The seniors were separated into two groups: the first group was presented with a slideshow from the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Program Manager Stephanie Murphy talking about and illustrating the severities of going behind the wheel intoxicated. In this presentation, she showed multiple videos, ranging from topics like peer pressure to the actual consequences of drunk driving like jail time and even death. These are only two of the severe cases, but one often overlooked consequence centers around survivor’s guilt. Many people turn a blind eye to this consequence, in which drivers survive a crash and continuously blame themselves. This isn’t just about the external tragedies drunk driving results in, but also the internal, mental toll it takes on a person—to not only cause a devastating scene, but to also survive it. 

   She began to talk about real-life stories, speaking about a man with a history of drunk driving who had his license revoked as a result. Another topic that was brought up was how drunk driving is more than a one time offense: it affects your social, economic, and academic career. Ms. Murphy put emphasis on the extreme cases because it is a reality for many.

   More of the important information that was covered included the people you should call when under the influence, from your parents, to your friends, to even 911. Although an audible gasp echoed throughout the auditorium at the fact that students would potentially have to call the police, Ms. Murphy put them to ease by explaining that calling the police doesn’t exactly mean that you’re in trouble. She said that getting in trouble with your parents for drinking underage is a miniscule consequence if you truly understood that the consequences for driving intoxicated is death. Senior Camille Excell expressed her feelings about calling the police, saying “It makes me a little skeptical because I wouldn’t want to get in trouble but in the end it’s the right thing to do.” 

   After this eye-opening presentation, the moment everyone was waiting for had finally arrived. The seniors headed to the football field to be met with multiple police officers and the DUI tests.

   There were 4 stations: the driving course consisted of a student driving a golf cart impaired with specialized goggles replicating intoxication. While driving, students had to go through cones and try not to hit them. Hailey Cajigas, one of the seniors that did this test, said “I liked the driving presentation because it really showed how it would be driving while drunk. When I went through without the goggles, I was driving very well. But when I put the goggles on I was knocking down almost every cone. It showed that not being in the right mind while driving really makes you have no control of the car and can lead to someone getting very hurt.” 

   The next station involved walking in a line. This is a less intense test that focuses on trying to maintain your balance while wearing the intoxication-imitating goggles. Students were expected to count 9 steps, putting their right foot in front of the left with their arms to their sides while trying to make sure their coordination is up to par. 

   Another station involved hyperfocusing on being able to navigate your surroundings. While wearing the goggles, the assigned student would look up while closing their eyes. Their arms were expected to be horizontal in the air, and each of their arms would then have to move towards the front of their body; then, they’d bring their hands to their nose, all while their heads were tilted up towards the sky. 

   The last station required catching a ball. While wearing the goggles, students were tasked with catching a football thrown by a police officer. Since they were impaired by the glasses, it showed the extent of the impact intoxication has on hand-eye coordination. 

   Each activity left the students feeling hazy afterwards, as they fully came to understood the gravity of the impact that alcohol has on the body and how it can affect the judgment of the brain when driving. As said by Hailey Caijags, “it made me feel good cause now I know that I don’t react well to being intoxicated and will never even think about driving while intoxicated.”

   This day wasn’t just for renewing senior privilege. It was about learning to make good choices and understanding the extremity of driving intoxicated. This presentation might have seemed redundant, but knowing the information is better than living in ignorance. The seniors not only had fun, but they also learned many things that could save them at any time in the future. Aiyanna Nixon, president of the 2023 senior class, says to“go with an open mind to receive a new understanding of things. Never feel that you are so high and mighty, so these things would never happen to you. You don’t know what can happen in life so be careful and stay informed…We are [young], so we are experiencing different things and substances in life. It is good to know how these substances can affect us and others.”