With so many of our Kenai Peninsula seniors nearing the end of their high school careers, it would be a tragedy for any of them to finish it this way. But the possibility is there.
There are many, including parents, who are working hard to erase that possibility. After-prom parties have been planned and some already have taken place that offer teens an alternative to being out and about all night. They give teens a place to go a safe place to go where there are games, dancing, computers, prizes, food and entertainment.
For those who think it's not cool to hang with parents and friends in that manner, the Soldotna Police Department decided to try and clear up any doubt the students might have about the affects of alcohol, not only on prom night, but anytime.
Together with Alaska State Troopers, the police provided safety rules for driving, then had the students get behind the wheel of a golf cart and test their skills.
First they drove under normal conditions, then the officers added a twist: fatal vision goggles. These goggles created the sensation of driving under the influence. The students drove the same course in day and nighttime goggles with darkened lenses.
Not surprisingly, there were many crushed cones. What is surprising is that some drivers fared the same in all conditions, although most drivers complained of feeling dizzy.
The truth is, nothing can compare to what it would be like to be behind the wheel drunk except to be drunk. Now add distractions music, friends, headlights and the heart-stopping panic of heading straight into those headlights.
These parents and law enforcement officers are making a solid point: Don't drink, but if you do, don't drive.
Alaska has one of the highest rate of alcohol fatality crashes in the country. We can do much better.
To the students: Go out and have fun. This is a time in your life you should be celebrating. But be responsible. Alcohol could equal disaster.
Thanks to the parents, teachers, school administration and law enforcement, students get the opportunity to learn one more valuable lesson. Let's hope it saves their lives.
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