Dodgeball Teaches Texas Students About Drunk Driving
Many people who get behind the wheel after a few drinks aren’t aware of how impaired they are. After all, they’re able to turn the key, step on the gas and keep the car on the road. But driving, of course, is a lot more than piloting a vehicle in a straight line. It’s being able to react to conditions on the road. Lack of that ability is usually discovered only after it’s too late.
The Texas Department of Transportation, TxDOT, wants to ensure that young people are aware of this problem before it becomes a problem. To that end, the organization recently set up a virtual dodgeball game at the University of Austin as a new method of drunk driving education.
The dodgeball video game had an unusual twist: it allows players to “drink” by adding virtual drinks between games, and increasing reaction time accordingly. Students who were doing well at the game suddenly found their winning streak over as the drinks slowed them down.
The conclusion is hard to evade: the more drinks you have, the slower your reaction time, and the less able you are to get out of the way. In the game, it’s just a virtual dodgeball that hits you. On the road, it could be a car that gets hit. Or a pedestrian.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video demonstration of the effects of alcohol on reflexes is probably worth a few stern lectures on the dangers of drinking and driving. It’s a method of persuasion particularly effective for people in the age group most likely to drive drunk: the 18-35 sector.
This interactive experience is an excellent addition to the methods of drunk driving education used to reach young people. Maybe a demonstration in a safe virtual environment can teach students that drunk driving is serious business in the real world.