Bergen County College Students Receive Lecture on Distracted Driving, DUI from Local Police

Apparently law enforcement authorities and safety advocates here in the Garden State feel that residents, namely young adult motorists, just don’t get it. In this case, the “It” being addressed is driving under the influence of beer, wine, hard liquor, prescription medication and even illicit or illegal substances.

As New Jersey DWI defense attorneys, we have a good feel for the sheer volume of drunken driving arrests that occur annually in Jersey; we know this because of the number of cases that pass through our courts each and every month. While most people should know that driving while intoxicated by liquor or drugs (drug DUI) is against the law, law enforcement and other anti-drunken-driving groups keep hammering the point home: DWI and DUI are strictly against the law.

Not surprising, when a driver is observed by police operating his vehicle in violation of current traffic laws, he will likely be pulled over. If it comes to light during that traffic stop that the driver has been drinking, the gloves really come off and that motorist could be hit with a summons for DWI (or drug DUI, in the case of doctor-prescribed meds). Still, with all the public service messages and increased police patrols during holidays, apparently many individuals haven’t caught on.

We were reminded of this apparent need for continuing DWI education after reading a news story on a presentation that was made to students at Bergen Community College a while back. This kind of drunken driving awareness campaign is not uncommon anywhere across the country, but here in New Jersey it sometimes seems to be overkill; until, of course, one tallies up the number of DWI/DUI arrests and convictions on an annual basis. Whether the numbers are rising or falling is mostly irrelevant because the fact remains that a percentage of drivers continue to be arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence.

In the presentation discussed in this article, the Arrive Alive campaign sponsored by UNITE International gave BCC students got a close look at the dangers of DWI and driving while texting. According to reports, the presentation involved a stationary but working vehicle hooked up with various sensors so that participants could get a first-hand look at the effects of drunken driving on vehicle control.

Wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles, students got a chance to “drive” down a simulated roadway while actually applying the vehicle’s brakes, gas pedal and steering wheel. According to event organizers, it doesn’t take long before the participants believe they are actually driving the car. A nearby TV monitor displays what the driver is seeing in real time so that the other participants can observe the current driver’s progress.

As part of the simulation, the control software/hardware system reportedly adjusts the vehicle’s performance to help students better understand the effects of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and even texting.

What event organizers hope for is that most of the participants will remember what happens when a person who is drunk or distracted tries to drive on a public road. The goal is reportedly to demonstrate in a safe environment how easy a motorist can be caught by police for erratic driving, or what little it takes to cause a traffic collision while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of beer, wine or hard liquor, and even illicit substances such as marijuana.

Dangers of distracted, drunk driving presented to Bergen Community College students, NorthJersey.com, April 19, 2012