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Students learn dangers of drunk, distracted driving

Just days before the Halifax County High School prom, area law enforcement agencies joined forces to make students aware of the dangers of drunk and distracted driving.

South Boston Police Department, Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program and Halifax Police Department visited Halifax County High School Thursday morning warning students about what can happen when a person gets behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or texts while driving.

The demonstrations and warnings were part of the RISE program and TL3 Campaign.

RISE, an acronym for Responsibility Improving Safety Education, has a mission to provide students with the best prevention tools possible to deal with the issues of underage drinking, drug use, impaired driving and other destructive decisions, according to South Boston Police Captain B. K. Lovelace.

“The RISE program has provided students at Halifax County High School strategies to avoid drinking and driving. Students are able to participate in simulation activities to encourage them not to drink and drive,” Principal Albert Randolph said when authorities visited the school two years ago.

 The Text Later Live Longer campaign is a campaign to educate citizens on the dangers of texting and driving. 

South Boston Police Department supports distracted driving month by displaying and advertising TL3 stickers, Lovelace said.

According to South Boston Police Chief Jim Binner, as part of this year’s program, students were afforded the opportunity to wear the fatal vision goggles while driving golf carts provided by the high school.

Students also were given information about the dangers of impaired driving and wore fatal vision goggles to see the effects of alcohol impairment. 

VASAP representatives presented brochures to students providing information on alcohol and drug abuse.

After having the opportunity to experience the exercise, several students said they had learned their lesson.

Once she experienced the drunk driving exercise, Tyler Adams, a ninth grader at Halifax County High School, said, “It’s not just impairing your vision, but it also throws off your motor skills and depth perception. The goggles made driving the golf cart a lot harder.” 

Tenth grader Dayqon Briggs agreed.

“The goggles affected my ability to drive. I couldn’t really see. I was dazed,” Briggs said.

Zaire Brand, a ninth grader, said the texting and driving exercise showed her just how dangerous it is to text and drive.

“After this experience I don’t think I will text and drive. I didn’t have has much control of the wheel as I needed because I was trying to multitask and focus on the road,” she said.

 Ninth grader Moia Logan said, “I learned not to text and drive ever. It affected my vision and ability to know which way I was going because I was into the phone.”

Paul Edmunds, another ninth grader, said texting while driving the golf cart made driving hard, and he does not plan on texting while driving.

According to the surgeon general, each year approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. Drinking interferes with an adolescent’s ability to judge risk and make sound decisions. 

The result of such behaviors can be life-changing whether as the result of illness or injury or involvement with the juvenile justice system, Binner said.

South Police Department officials realize Halifax County has some outstanding students. 

“We take great pride when dealing with young people. We want to make sure that each young person understands how important it is to make responsible decisions that keep them safe,” Binner concluded.