WSNHS students get ‘vision’ for safety

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kayla Hoomes takes a dash through 'Fatal Vision' obstacle course.

More than 100 students at W.S. Neal High School got a glimpse of what it looks like to drive drunk Tuesday.

Through the cooperative efforts of the Alabama Farmer’s Federation, ALFA Insurance at area schools, students are given the chance to wear specially designed goggles to simulate vision while driving under the influence of alcohol.

Paul Brown, a Farmer’s Federation representative, said the program is made possible through all of those who support the Fatal Vision program.

“Without the local Farmers Federation we couldn’t do this program,” Brown said. “Everyone who works with this program is a volunteer. It takes a big group of people to do this kind of program.”

Todd Williamson, assistant principal at W.S. Neal High School and a Farmers Federation member, said the program is one fully supported by the schools because of the lessons students learn.

“We will have about 120 students go through the obstacle course this year,” Williamson said. “All of the students are in the tenth grade this year. Last year we did tenth, 11th and 12th grade students and had a really good response from them.”

Kayla Hoomes was one student who took a spin around the obstacle course line with traffic cones.

“I can see it’s really dangerous to drive after drinking,” Hoomes said. “Everything was blurred and some of the cones looked like mini-cones. It was really dangerous.”

Hoomes crashed through 19 of the 50 cones set up for the demonstration.

“We’ve had as many as 48 cones knocked down before,” Brown said. “The fewest we’ve had is nine. These students realize it’s a hard thing to do to drive through the course with the goggles on. I think going through this gives them a new perspective on just how dangerous it can be.”

Williamson said the program was first held three years ago at the school and will continue to be offered as much as possible in the future.

“Not every student will respond the same way to the demonstration,” Williamson said. “But, if we can save one life, or keep one student from being involved with driving under the influence of alcohol, then it’s worth every penny and every minute that we spend presenting this program. We have students who ask to be a part of the demonstration every year since we’ve done this. Some of the older students who have gone through the course talk about it and it makes the younger ones want to be a part of it too. They all respond well and it serves a great purpose.”

Williamson said students are given the experience of using Fatal Vision goggles as a way of driving home the “don’t drink and drive” warning.

“We really want the students to understand how important it is to be sober while driving,” Williamson said. “In years past we have gotten positive responses from the students in regard to the program. We have discussions after they drive with the Fatal Vision goggles on and they are surprised to see what a difference it makes to be behind the wheel while intoxicated.”

ALFA representatives Cindy Darby and Judy Robbins were also on hand for Tuesday’s demonstration along with Alabama State Trooper Greg Eubanks.