Stafford combines Independence celebration with driver safety demonstrations
By Karen Daniels
The Stafford Police Department recently received a $10K grant from State Farm Insurance to purchase and implement a driver safety course for SMSD high school students. With the new equipment’s recent arrival, what better place to display the gear than the 39th Annual Independence Party at the Stafford Centre. With storm clouds and lightening strikes lingering over Houston, to everyone’s amazement, the severe weather dissipated at the County’s edge, bringing only gentle breezes and cooler temperatures to the July 3rd party. The parade, carnival, dedication and live music—day one of a two-day celebration—was well attended all evening long.
As attendees entered Festival Field, the Stafford police department proudly set up the driver safety course for the public to view. The first demonstration showed the effects of seat belts versus no seat belts with a rollover simulator. The cab of a truck turned like a rotisserie. With seat belts, the manikins (driver and baby in a car seat) are safe and stay secured. Without seat belts, the driver was tossed out the side window (windows shatter almost immediately in a roll-over) and the baby remained in the truck cab, with its child seat rotated. Chief Bonny Krahn wants everyone to know, officers included, “Nothing warrants not wearing your seatbelt.”
Next was the use of the drunk-goggles. These goggles imitate certain degrees of alcohol intoxication and opioid impairment by reducing the user’s alertness and reaction time, which in turn leads to impaired depth perception and coordination. The heel-toe test was conducted first without the goggles, and that was challenging enough, but when the goggles were added, three times the legal limit, double-vision and fuzziness made the test impossible, and one by one, everyone failed. Julian Perez tried the opioid goggles, and when asked to pick up his keys from the ground, two officers prevented him from falling.
Last was the Drunk-Buster scooters which are like 4-wheeled bicycles. A track with orange-colored cones curved around the parking lot. You were instructed to ride around the course first to familiarize yourself with it. On the second go-around, you wore the goggles that simulated twice the legal limit. Krystal Flores, criminal justice student, completed the task already knowing driving drunk isn’t worth the consequences. Some individuals could actually get through the track without knocking over a single cone, but they pedaled very slowly. “Driving slower is a sign of intoxication,” Chief Krahn said. “People driving under the speed limit are just as dangerous as those driving over the speed limit.”
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