Computer Car Shows Effects of Driving Drunk

Article excerpt

Students can learn this week what happens when they try to drive drunk.

In fact, they can learn without even a sip of alcohol.

They can learn because of a 1995 white Dodge Neon with a computer system that registers a person's weight and between one and 12 hypothetical drinks. The computer delays the car's braking and steering response to simulate the effect of the alcohol.

The car was scheduled to appear at three high schools in west St. Louis County as part of a national tour sponsored by Chrysler Corp. On Wednesday, the car was to visit Lafayette High School in Ballwin. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, the car will appear at Parkway Central High School at 369 North Woods Mill Road. From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, the car will be at Parkway West High School, 14653 Clayton Road.

Students and other people with drivers licenses can operate the car. Other people can watch or ride. An instructor rides along to use a separate brake in emergencies.

A participant has to try to steer the car around orange pylons without hitting silhouettes of pedestrians that pop up like figures in a carnival arcade.

"This will show people what will happen if they drink and get behind the wheel. This will show them that they probably will hurt themselves and someone else," said Rebecca Van Pelt, a spokeswoman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD. Van Pelt's cousin, Laura Jackson, 35, died Oct. 2 after a car driven by a drunken driver hit Jackson's car in Jefferson County. …