District 155's Operation Click Puts Students in the Driver's Seat
Students at Cary-Grove High School recently got behind the wheel of a golf cart, and donned a pair of vision-altering goggles to test their driving skills.
Parents and teachers can talk to teens about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol until they're blue in the face.
But going through a simulation of such conditions can show young drivers what operating a vehicle while impaired feels like -and how dangerous it is.
"The goggles can be set at various levels of impairment," said Cary-Grove Vice Principal Rebecca Saffert. "We set the goggles at the second worse level, and then the students must drive the golf cart through an obstacle course."
Once the teens see how difficult it is to drive under the influence, instructors set the goggles on the highest level of impairment and students must attempt to walk a straight line - just like a sobriety test issued by police officers to drunken driving suspects.
"This gives them a good idea of what being impaired is like," Saffert said.
The program is just one of many conducted through Operation Click by Cary-Grove and Community High School District 155's other three schools: Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge.
The District 155 chapter of Operation Click was formed to "reduce teen fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle crashes by developing safe driving habits through education and positive reinforcement," according to the Operation Click mission statement.
Students participating in Operation Click sign a contract promising they will not drink and drive, text and drive, or ride in a car without using seat belts, Saffert said.
Every school quarter, instructors conduct a seat belt survey of students driving their own cars to school. The AAA Motor Club provides a virtual machine, similiar to a video game, that allows young drivers to experience the dangers of texting and driving.
"The students love that, and we do it each semester," Saffert said.
The golf carts will likely return in the spring, Saffert said, as part of the program. Throughout the year, participants who uphold their contracts have their names entered into prize drawings.
The District 155 Operation Click program culminates in the spring with student finalists having an opportunity to win a car.
"We hold our Operation Click banquet in April with students and parents," Saffert said. "We've been lucky here at Cary-Grove as we've had quite a few students who have won the car."