The Coppell Police Department and Independent School District in Texas goes the “extra mile” with their safety program by teaching their students about the dangers of driving under the influence. This is accomplished by School Resource Officers assigned to each high school addressing the issue in a forensic science class, and using Innocorp’s SIDNE® to help do the job.
According to Rachael Freeman, one of seven officers assigned to different district schools, there are six forensic science classes for 16- to 18-year-olds among the City’s high schools. Each 50-minute class has a three-day unit that examines how the human body reacts to alcohol. On day one of the unit, the officers show a PowerPoint Presentation that goes over the facts about intoxication.
Day two is the beginning of making that information real to students. “Day two is practical, real-life experience,” says Freeman. It’s the day the officers bring SIDNE® to school.
Students are taken to a driving course set up by officers on school grounds for a demonstration of SIDNE® and the opportunity to experience impairment effects while driving an actual vehicle. . On the first lap of the course, students are driving “unimpaired”—that is, SIDNE® is set to normal driving. Student drivers enjoy the experience and most exude confidence about their ability to handle the vehicle on the track.
“It’s taught me that it’s [drunk driving] more dangerous because you’re not only putting yourself in danger, but you’re putting someone else’s life in danger,” says student participant A. J. Stover-Grant. “It definitely made me more aware of what could be going on and how it could get really bad really quick.”
“It did make me think about other people who are drinking and driving,” says student participant Kristen Racz.
“The students get the message,” says Freeman.
One of the great things about using SIDNE® in a classroom setting is that every student has a chance to drive the track. To make sure that each student has a turn in SIDNE®, the officers set up the shorter course. About half of the students drive during day two; the rest have a turn on day three. Officers also place students in SIDNE®’s passenger seat to give them the scary experience of being the passenger of an impaired driver.
The basic thrust of the presentation is straightforward: Don’t drink and drive and don’t consume alcohol until you’re over 21. But Freeman says that there’s another portion of the message that’s just as important: Intervene and don’t let someone who’s been drinking drive.
These messages are so important that KCBY, the district’s student-led television station, created a video to report on the class. It shows footage of SIDNE® and students at Coppell High School in action.
“The video is great!” says Freeman. “It really gets across the message.”
SIDNE® has been so effective that the Coppell police force intends to expand its use. Officers already use it in the Junior Police Academy, which is a middle-school summer camp, and the area’s CARE program, which is an impaired driving offender program.
The force also plans to add SIDNE® to its updated Explorer program. This program is offered to students looking toward a career in law enforcement.
The police department has been using SIDNE® for about a year. Having SIDNE® has made a big difference to all their programs, says Freeman, but especially those that reach high school students. Before they got SIDNE®, they used to use a pedal car with the Fatal Vision® goggles. But it was just too easy to steer and didn’t have the same impact on students.
“I think SIDNE® is much better,” says Freeman. “It shows the negative effects of impairment. It’s a great way to reach students.”
To watch the video of SIDNE® in action at Coppell High School on February 4, 2016visit https://vimeo.com/157153296?utm_source=email&utm_medium=vimeo-cliptranscode- 201504&utm_campaign=28749.