Fatal Vision® products export driving safety message from Florida’s Miccosukee Reservation

For the past four years, Highway Safety Specialist Matty Rams has worked tirelessly to promote driving safety to her constituents on Florida’s Miccosukee Reservation.

“We’re trying to address [driving safety] problems before they start,” Rams says.

To that end, Rams presented information on the topic to students and tribal members in a tag-team audio/slides format with another officer. Her presentations needed to be sensitive to cultural norms on the reservation, so some traditional traffic safety videos that contained depictions of upsetting crash scenes were out. The presentation would also involve an officer talking and explaining the issues and dangers, but she noticed that about fifteen minutes into their presentations the audience seemed to lose interest, especially when her audience were teenage students.

Rams asked herself how she could capture the attention of the audience, respect cultural norms, and keep the audience involved.

At a Lifesavers conference, she was introduced to the Fatal Vision® products by Innocorp, Ltd. and saw a clear way out of her dilemma. An Innocorp Representative introduced her to the benefits products like the Fatal Vision Goggles and SIDNE (Simulated Impaired Driving Experience) could add to her message.

“When I returned from the conference, I spoke to the Command staff about getting these products into our budget,” she says. “It took a year and a half, but we got the Goggles and SIDNE. The difference in the impact our program makes now is like night and day, thanks to Fatal Vision.”

Rams has used Goggles and SIDNE for the last year and a half. She estimates she’s used the Goggles in 25 presentations and SIDNE in more than ten different demonstrations. Her audiences have spanned a variety of ages and demographics including high school students, university young adults, and adults at events like health fairs and safety programs, both on and off the Miccosukee Reservation. The response has been gratifying to Rams.

“It changes the way people see and learn [the information],” she says. “It’s been enlightening to observe the benefits a hands-on approach provides versus a lecture.” Rams continues, “With the use of Innocorp products, we’ve gone from talking at people to working with people to understand the issues and help them make safer choices and decisions.”

Her message hasn’t changed, only her method of delivery and the impact on the audience. “Our central message is that it’s important to be safe on the highway whether or not you’re drinking yourself. Awareness: If we didn’t have these tools [Fatal Vision and SIDNE] we couldn’t deliver an effective message and potentially life-saving lesson.”

She says this message is especially important because access on and off the everglades reservation is via a lone two-lane highway. Often under construction, unlit, and surrounded by water on both sides, the highway is a danger, whether a driver is under the influence or not. Rams’ presentations emphasize awareness of others driving on the same stretch who could be intoxicated, and she drives that home by asking searching “what if” questions of the audience and introducing tactics and safer choices that are reinforced through the engagement provided using Innocorp tools and resources.

With students especially, Rams finds herself working against drinking myths students have encountered online. She finds the Fatal Vision Goggles, and intoxiclock® are helpful in this. “We gain their attention and help ensure the lesson is retained long-term,” she says.

How does Rams know Fatal Vision products are effective? Now students don’t disengage during the presentations; they ask lots of questions. Those questions are thoughtful and probing now. University students pay close attention to the You Call the Shots Banner. They’re shocked to know that the couple of drinks they thought didn’t affect them raised their BAC past the legal limit.

“Their enthusiasm for the program continues after it’s over too,” Rams continues. “They’re more aware and that makes them eager to spread the word.” She explains that the department has been reaching outside of the reservation because that word has spread to nearby postsecondary schools, resulting in invitations to present there.

Teachers at the high school on the reservation have been extra-positive about the presentations with the Goggles, SIDNE, and other Fatal Vision products because of the impact they’ve had on students. Rams says they’ve noted “aha” moments from students like the one who when driving SIDNE exclaimed, “I can’t control it, I don’t ever want to experience this in real life!” Those moments stick with the students. “One of the unexpected benefits of using Innocorp products in our traffic safety program has been our ability to bridge a gap with the community and establish meaningful relationships,” says Rams. “Before our use of the Fatal Vision products, I was referred to as Ms. Rams, and now, our program has helped the department establish a comfort level with students and adults alike, to a point where they call me Ms. Matty, that makes it worth it!”

Rams has plans for her Fatal Vision products, which now include the Goggles, SIDNE, intoxiclock, the Opioid Program Kit, the THC Campaign Kit, the Polydrug Program Kit, and the Community Event Kit. She hopes to expand the products’ use in her Driver’s Ed training program, either before or after students do their online Learner’s Permit test. The department is working on creating a DUI program that incorporates the products too. It will require time in a classroom setting that incorporates the Goggles and SIDNE.

Rams has some advice for anyone thinking about incorporating Fatal Vision products into their programs too.

“Get them all!” she urges. “Use them together! When the audience is engaged, you get a better outcome.”