SIDNE shows the perils of impaired driving
April 05, 2010

Victor Sly, a Joplin Police Department school resource officer at Joplin High School, tries his hand at negotiating a MoDOT test course with SIDNE, a vehicle that simulates an impaired driving experience. (Photo by Vince Rosati)

A simulator to make students aware of the dangers of drinking, abusing drugs and driving is being offered by MoDOT for permitted drivers and for use in driver's education programs. SIDNE is a battery-powered go-kart that simulates driving while impaired. That can include texting.

The vehicle that runs on two battery packs supplied by MoDOT goes between 10-15 miles per hour, not exactly like the go-carts in Branson, for instance.

"If kids say it doesn't feel like a real go-cart, well, that's not the point," warns Lawrence County Sheriff Brad A. DeLay, who helps administer the program.

During a demonstration held recently on the grounds of MoDOT on 32nd Street in Joplin Dave Backus helped set up the course with cones that riders had to negotiate between. Arrows helped lead the way. What students must be able to do is negotiate a 45-foot loop track with an area that zig-zags. What SIDNE demonstrates is that it takes a split second to crash.

When SIDNE is set to the "impaired mode," drivers have less than three seconds to react. Backus warned instructors at this point to keep a safe distance. "One second, he said, "I was on my back with my shoe over my head."

The message that the use of SIDNE gets across is that the impaired driver has virtually no reaction time. For a passenger the message is to not get into a car with someone impaired.

Reminder to use seat belts

The Buckle-Up Stencil is an easy way to promote safety as motorists leave a parking lot. MoDOT provides the stencil, reflective beads and paint for volunteers who do the painting. The stencil is an image of two hands clicking a seat belt together with the words "Buckle Up" underneath.

To reserve either of these tools, please contact Tamara Black at (417) 621-6556 or send an e-mail here.

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