State Police, County Partner to Teach Teens Dangers of Drunk Driving

DRIVE Program Makes Stop at Woodbridge High School

They may not be the most fashionable accessory this fall, but the special goggles that Woodbridge High School students donned this morning may actually save their lives.

New Jersey State Police and Middlesex County officials brought their highly successful DRIVE program to the high school today to teach teens about the dangers of drunk driving and to unveil new equipment for the program.

Lead by County personnel, the teens took turns driving golf carts around a traffic cone course while wearing “Fatal Vision Goggles,” which simulate intoxication and alter vision.

“I don’t think we can ever say it enough: drinking and driving do not mix,” said Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos, who created the Driver Response Impaired Vision Exercise (D.R.I.V.E.) program in 2001. “This program does more than just preach the dangers of driving while intoxicated; it demonstrates in a very real and tangible way the effects that alcohol has on driving ability and reaction time.  The program gives teens a real sense of the dangers they face, and the harm they could do to others if they were to drink and drive.”

In April 2003, New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes
formally committed the State Police as a partner with the County to promote New
Jersey DRIVE across the state. The State Police incorporated their successful
DUI lecture program with the hands-on golf cart course.

"The confidence of youth often fools teens into believing that they can drink alcohol and get behind the wheel. As a part of the DRIVE program, state troopers have used the Fatal Vision Goggles for years to show teens how dangerous it is to drive impaired," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

"We are grateful for the steady support that Freeholder Polos and Middlesex County have given us through the years. His assistance has enabled us to bring this valuable program to teen drivers throughout New Jersey," Fuentes added.

"Alcohol was a factor in 26 percent of the state's fatal crashes last year," said Pam Fischer, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Chair of the Teen Driver Study Commission.   "This coupled with the fact that teens are disproportionately represented in car crashes, makes programs like DRIVE so important.  Giving teens the opportunity to experience first-hand what it's like to be impaired behind the wheel can positively impact their decision making in the future.  And we know alcohol-education is paying off -- drunk driving is well down on the list of reasons why teens are crashing."

“Here at Woodbridge High School we work hard on a daily basis to make sure that our students are given the information they need, to make the right decisions and stay safe, especially when they are behind the wheel,” said Woodbridge High School Principal Arthur Lee Warren.  “I would like to thank Freeholder Polos, Colonel Fuentes and Director Fischer for making this program available to our school and for helping us spread the message to our students to drive safely and unimpaired.”