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MPD teaches the dangers of DUI

Modified: Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Motorcycle Officer Jason Cann talked to the first driver’s education class that would take to the course that was laid out with orange cones. Young drivers wore goggles that simulated drunk driving and then had to make the tight turns and lane changes. Taylor Brixius, behind the wheel wearing the DUI goggles drives motor Officer Jason Cann through the course that was set up in Marana High School’s student parking lot last week.

MARANA — Each year more than 11,000 people nationwide die because of drunk driving. Most authorities suggest that the best way to reduce that number is through education.

Last week, the Marana Police Department’s motorcycle officers set up a cone obstacle course in the parking lot at Marana High School to demonstrate the dangers of drinking and driving. Officers Jason Cann, Robert Quackenbush, and Lacus Wilkenson came prepared to teach three driver’s education classes what it feels like to try and drive while intoxicated.

The three officers brought along goggles that changed the vision of a person wearing them. One pair simulated a blood alcohol level of .08, and the other for .12. Both levels are legally drunk.

“This gives them a real practical application of a simulated drunk driving event in a controlled environment to show them that they’re not going to be as good as they think they are when they leave the bar and get behind the wheel to drive a car,” explained Cann. “They think, ‘I’m fine, I can make it home.’ This is to simulate to them that no they probably can’t make it home. These cones represent a car or a pedestrian. Even if they hit one cone, they fail. It’s trying to nip the problem in the bud. We want to show them when they’re young and when they first get behind the wheel it’s not acceptable and you’re not going to be able to do it.”

Cann has been a vocal leader of strong DUI enforcement. He is just as adamant about educating young drivers about the dangers of simply operating a car with all the distractions that come from modern life.

“I think the people of Marana deserve to drive on safe streets and it starts from the youngest up,” said Cann. “We haven’t had a DUI fatality since December of 2008 so our DUI enforcement as a whole has just increased dramatically.”

Cann said that parents could play a big role in drinking or drug use and driving. He thinks it is important to talk with teenagers and work out situations than can save lives.

Taylor Brixius was the first student to wear the goggles and drive a golf cart. She didn’t hit any cones but at the same time she drove around the course at one of the slowest speeds of any of her classmates.

“It was really hard to see where I was going,” Brixius said. “It was like I was impaired. It was really awkward.”

What does Brixius think about drunk driving?

“It’s not okay,” she said. “I’ve never got into a car with anyone who was going to drive drunk. My parents always told me that if I needed them I should call and tell them to pick me up no matter what. They said they wouldn’t be mad at me. They said make sure you tell us and be responsible.”

Three classes took part throughout the day. All were subjected to the tight golf cart course and the goggles.

For the complete article see the 05-02-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-02-2012 paper.

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