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HS Students Get Life-Saving Driving Lessons

By Alicia
Published On: Feb 16 2012 04:00:43 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 16 2012 09:21:19 AM CST
BEND, Ore. -

Screeching tires, hundreds of orange cones -- and beer goggles.

A total of 72 Summit High students got a hands-on, behind-the-wheel experience Thursday to try out three different courses in the Ford Driving Skills for Life Program.

We put our NewsChannel 21 intern, Stephen Horrell, to the test.

At first, driving through the cone course looks like a piece of cake -- then Horrell had to try it while texting.

"It really put it into perspective, of how texting and driving can really affect you," Horrell said.

Not easy at all -- Horrell hit two cones and turned right at the sign that said "left turn only."

Next up: driving impaired. No, there's no alcohol involved, just some "beer goggles," to simulate what it would be like driving drunk.

And let's just say Horrell failed miserably. He smashed into four cones along the course -- in the real world, they could have been other cars, or worse, people.

"It was hard to see -- it gave me a headache. I couldn't tell where anything was, and it really messed up my depth perception," Horrell added.

Those same beer goggles are used while officers give the students a field sobriety test and when they tried to walk a straight line, everyone was completely off balance.

"The goggles can't completely replicate it perfectly," said Bend police Lt. Paul Kansky. "But it's close so they can have an idea and think twice about it while getting in the car and driving impaired."

Finally, it was on to speed management. Strapped into a specially designed Ford Mustang, Horrell took it for a spin, curving corners and sliding sideways.

But it's not all fun and games.

Ford's safety tour is all about giving young drivers extra knowledge, driving practice and a very big reminder: Keep your eyes on the road, or it could cost you your life.

"It is the No. 1 killer of teens," said Mike Speck with the Ford Driving Skills for Life program. "Between 5,000 and 6,000 teens are killed in car crashes every year, and this allows them to get behind the wheel and see what they can or can't do, while having fun at the same time."

Horrell says considering he wasn't in a classroom, he learned quite a few lessons.

"At first I thought, 'Great! I get to drive around in a Mustang and go around corners!' But after taking it, now I know what it's like to text and drive, drive while I'm impaired or while sliding on ice -- and it does make a big difference."

Ford's national Driving Skills for Life program stopped by Madras High School on Tuesday. Officials say they plan to visit all the Northwest high schools by this spring.

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