February 28, 2018

VSU Police Department Hosts Driver Safety Event with Hands-On Simulators March 7

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Police Department will host the Blazer Safety Maze from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 7, on the Front Lawn. Activities are free of charge and open to students, faculty, and staff.

“We are holding this event to remind the VSU community to not drive while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs,” said Sgt. Heidi Browning with VSUPD. “Spring break is the following week, and statistics show that crashes caused by driving under the influence increase significantly during that time.”

The Blazer Safety Maze is a traffic safety event full of interactive simulations and information on the importance of safe driving.

The STOP (Safety Traffic Operation Program) Simulator will allow attendees to safely experience the effects of impaired driving. Licensed drivers will be able to wear special goggles and drive a golf cart through a closed course of orange cones.

Using mannequins, the Roll Over Simulator will demonstrate what happens if a driver or passenger is not wearing a seatbelt when a vehicle flips.

The Seat Belt Convincer Simulator will let riders feel the force of a wreck and see how a seat belt saves lives.

Attendees will also get to explore a B.A.T (Blood and Alcohol Trailer), which is used to process and hold drunk drivers, as well as an armored vehicle known as a BearCat. 

Airlife 9, a team of professional aviation and medical individuals dedicated to excellence in air medical transport, will land a helicopter on the Front Lawn around 5 p.m.

“The event is a proactive approach to promote safe driving decisions through awareness and education on traffic safety issues such as impaired driving of drugs and alcohol, distracted driving, texting while driving, proper seat belt usage, speed and aggressive driving, along with various prevention and awareness campaigns,” Browning said.

Sponsors of the Blazer Safety Maze include the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, City of Byron Police Department, Charlton County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Airlife 9, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, VSU’s Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Education, and VSU’s Student Government Association.

Studies show that alcohol- or drug-impaired drivers are much more likely to cause car accidents, highway injuries, and vehicular deaths than non-impaired drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving crashes claim more than 13,000 lives each year.

Additionally, driving while distracted creates a crash risk 23 times greater than driving while not distracted, and while texting is the most alarming distraction, it is not alone. Using a cell phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, reading, using a navigation system, checking a map, grooming, watching a video, and adjusting a CD player, radio, or MP3 player all divert a person’s attention from the primary task of driving, putting the driver, his or her passengers, and any nearby bystanders at risk of serious injury and even death.

“I want people to come out and really see how immobilizing and dangerous it is to do those things,” Browning said. “Everybody thinks they can do it until they get behind that wheel.”

Contact Sgt. Heidi Browning at (229) 333-6024 or hnbertsch@valdosta.edu to learn more.

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