Simulated drunk driving teaches teens about danger behind the wheel

TREASURE ISLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In less time than it takes to watch a one hour TV show, 29 people will die on America's roads in an accident involving a drunk or impaired driver.
With lots of people expected to hit the road this Labor Day weekend, the CHP, the insurance industry and Ford teamed up to show some teen-agers just how dangerous driving drunk could be.

To do that, they staged an impaired simulation in a parking lot on Treasure Island. Skyler Knoflick, 17, senior at Northgate High in Walnut Creek, put on a suit that simulated driving while high on drugs.

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"I feel like a cyborg," he said.

His suit included braces on his knees, elbows and neck to restrict movement, a battery powered glove that made his hand tremble uncontrollably, and goggles to blur his vision.

"I feel like every step I take i'm gonna fall. It's crazy " he said.

Another Northgate senior, Julia Hagedorn, wore a similar outfit, designed to simulate drunk driving. Each drove an obstacle course, trying to snake between rows of highway cones without touching them. Despite their best efforts both hit multiple cones.

The lesson was to think of those cones as people, according to state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

"These are the hundred deadliest days - the days between memorial day and labor day when we have so many teen drivers who are on the road and as a result we have so many more teen accidents, injuries and fatalities," he said.

RELATED: 2 teens killed in suspected Walnut Creek DUI crash

For example, the August 12 accident on Highway 24 in Walnut Creek in which two Antioch teens died. The 18 year old driver was arrested for DUI.

After simulating driving impaired Skyler said there was only once conclusion he could reach. "It's not worth it. It really isn't."

Julia said there are so many options these days to driving drunk: "There's Lyft, Uber all those things nowadays to prevent things like this." she said.

Not to mention, it's a crime, punishable by fines, license suspension or jail time if a crash causes injury or death. And police will be watching.

"We'll be full hands on deck this weekend" according to Officer Kris Borer with the Highway Patrol.

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