Staff Sgt. Joel Pena
10th Mountain Division Journalist
Cpl. Julio Escobar was seen getting into a vehicle July 30, when he began driving erratically and running over orange cones.
While Escobar was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he was wearing goggles to simulate the effects of impaired driving during an Army Substance Abuse Program training event held at a parking pad between 3rd and 4th streets, adjacent to Nash Boulevard.
Escobar, who serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was one of the Soldiers taking part in the Simulated Impaired Driving Experience (SIDNE), an electric-powered go-cart used to simulate a moderate to high level of impairment while driving.
While SIDNE is fun to drive, it is also a powerful tool when teaching Soldiers about driving while impaired. When switched to “impairment mode,” it provides a realistic and challenging experience that simulates impairment.
“The one thing constant among people in an impaired state is that our normal levels of ability are reduced,” said Thomas L. Russell, Army Substance Abuse Prevention coordinator. “Reduced abilities mean a high chance of being involved in a crash that could result in injury or death if they choose to drive.”
ASAP’s mission is to provide alcohol and drug awareness education, prevention support services, and other related training and support to command leadership, Soldiers, Family, and community members. ASAP also has licensed clinical counselors to screen, assess, treat and offer referral to additional resources as needed.
With summer in full swing, so is the Army Safety’s 101 Critical Days of Summer program. Warm weather attracts people looking to spend time and have fun outside, according to Russell.
“One thing about living in the North Country is that to get around, you will most likely need to drive to wherever you want to go,” he said. “As we travel around and enjoy summer activities, we may want a few cold refreshing alcoholic drinks. Then we start thinking about the drive home and wonder, with the passing of time, are we OK to drive, or are we impaired?”
After driving the SIDNE and running over a few cones, Escobar admitted that driving while impaired is “reckless.”
“People sometimes don’t think about how negligent it is to get behind the wheel after a few drinks,” he said.
Pfc. Joshua Nwosu, 2-14 Infantry, also had an opportunity to take a spin in the SIDNE.
“This is really good training,” he said. “Besides having fun while driving, you learn a lot. The instructors are very knowledgeable and experienced.”
Russell explained that the main lesson he hopes Soldiers take away from the SIDNE training is to “never drive impaired.”
ASAP will set up a SIDNE Driving Obstacle Course on the parking pad area between 3rd and 4th streets, adjacent to Nash Boulevard for scheduled training on the following days:
* Monday and Aug. 25, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 2:30 p.m.
* Sept. 8 and 22, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Other dates may be available upon request.
For more information or to reserve SIDNE training, call Russell at 772-3331 or Albert Mack at 772-5447.