BACKGROUND: Simulated Impaired Driving Experience (SIDNE) is the newest tool in the fight against drunk driving. It's a battery-powered, remote-controlled vehicle that resembles a go-cart and simulates the experience of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. SIDNE is now being introduced by health educators and law enforcement around the country to enable high school and college students to experience firsthand the often unimagined impact of driving while under the influence.
WHAT IS ALCOHOL? Alcohol is created through the natural process of fermentation. This happens when yeast and sugar from vegetables and grains change the sugar into alcohol. When you drink alcohol, it is absorbed into your bloodstream, where it can affect the central nervous system ý the control center for your entire body. Alcohol slows down this control center with its sedative effect. In moderation it can reduce anxiety, but it also blocks some of the commands the brain sends to other parts of the body, so it alters your senses. That why, when drunk, people have trouble walking, talking, and some may even black out and not remember what they said or did. Drink enough alcohol and it can even be fatal.
LEGAL LEVELS: We all absorb alcohol into the bloodstream at different rates, mostly influenced by weight, although there are other factors, including body type, metabolism, and any medications someone might be taking. A person with a blood alcohol level of .08 to .10 is legally intoxicated, and for most people, this is the equivalent of just a few drinks. You can calculate blood alcohol content based upon how many drinks you've had, the percentage of alcohol in each, your weight, and the time spend drinking. The human liver can metabolize about an ounce of alcohol every hour (about one beer).
A FEW FACTS: In 2004, nearly 17,000 people in the United States died in alcohol-related car crashes. That same year, about 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Each year, alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost about $51 billion.