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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dyess Airmen witness effects of drunk driving

by Senior Airman Shannon Hall
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


3/27/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Airmen from the 317th Airlift Group witnessed the effects of drunk driving firsthand during their quarterly Comprehensive Airman Fitness event here March 21.

CAF events help Airmen, their families and Air Force civilians be more resilient and assist them in dealing with stressors of military life. The domains that are highlighted include mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness. This quarter Team Dyess is concentrating on the mental domain, which promotes good decision making and involves being aware of how personal beliefs and values can affect behavior.

This particular event hosted by the 317th AG focused on making good decisions when it comes to drinking and driving.

The event began with Airmen selected from each of the 317th Airlift Group squadrons consuming a limited number of alcoholic beverages in a controlled environment. The Airmen were then timed on how accurately they could drive a gator through a closed course without knocking over traffic cones and barriers.

The 7th Bomb Wing Safety office assisted with the demonstration, by controlling and monitoring the course, and by providing a member of the safety office to remain in the gator with drivers at all times. The 7th Security Forces Squadron, 7th Medical Group and several members from Dyess Against Drunk Driving were also present to ensure everyone's safety during the educational event.

"The event was aimed at demonstrating the effects of four to five drinks, and that although a person may not outwardly appear to be intoxicated, they still have the potential of being impaired," said Maj. Donald Sellars, 317th AG chief executive officer.

"Every one of the impaired drivers experienced reduced driving skills that resulted in numerous cones and barriers being knocked over," Sellars said. "Some members did better than others, but the important thing to remember is that a few drinks does not affect all people equally, nor does it affect the same person the same way in all situations."

Other Airmen put on impairment goggles, also known as drunk goggles, and drove the course to experience the effects of drunk driving, as the goggles simulate intoxication by limiting the senses when worn.

"What I learned today was that drinking something with a low alcohol content, like cider, can impair my driving skills drastically," said Airman 1st Class Teara Sapp, 40th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and driver participant. "I've lost a friend to drunk driving, so getting to witness this firsthand really demonstrated to me the effects that alcohol can have on your driving ability, without the person being aware that they possibly could be intoxicated."

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 28 people die a day due to drunk driving; that's more than 10,000 people a year. By conducting this event, Airmen were able to get more of a hands-on learning experience, as opposed to listening to briefings.

"I think events like these are more useful than regular briefings because it brings the situations into a more real-world setting," Sapp said. "It's not sitting in a room listening to briefings and watching slideshows. It's actually showing you, in real time, the effects that alcohol can have on you and how much it can impair your driving abilities. It made me realize that even if someone seems sober or they haven't had that much to drink it may be enough to put them over the limit."

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