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Simulators teach Athens HS seniors about safe driving

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ATHENS, Ala. - A Medflight crew landed midfield at Gold Eagle Stadium at Athens High Wednesday morning, but it was no emergency.

It was the beginning of Drunk Driving Awareness Wednesday, a daylong seminar of simulators and activities aimed at Athens High School seniors to encourage safe driving.

"With graduation time coming up, senior trips, summer vacation, it's an important time to make safe driving top of mind," said Allison Green, the Drive Safe coordinator with the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Seniors put on goggles to simulate intoxication and attempted to walk a straight line and to drive a golf cart safely through a track lined with cones.

"Not only are we talking about drunk driving and the effect of that, but distracted driving," said AHS Junior-Senior Counselor Laura Lou Smith. "It's become such a common issue."

The effort is a partnership between Children’s of Alabama, State Farm, the Alabama Department of Public Health, the Alabama Department of Transportation, Drive Safe Alabama, the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Safe Kids Alabama, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Alabama Sports Festival Foundation.

The number of Alabama teenagers killed in motor vehicle crashes is the fifth highest in the country. Speakers and representatives from the various groups educated students on the Alabama Graduated Driver License Law, drinking and driving, texting and driving, and other distractions.

Senior Claire Robinson admits that some of her peers may not make the smartest decisions, but she's aware of the need for extra caution.

"Last Thanksgiving I had a friend pass from West Limestone [High]," she said. "He had been drinking and driving."

The students had fun in the multiple workshops and activities, and school officials say it's a last effort to hammer home a lesson:

"Just one bad decision can turn into a lifetime of regret," said Smith.