Watch UR BAC safety program slated for March 6 at Austin Community College

Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-859-5752, paschattenberg@ag.tamu.edu

Contacts: Bobbi Brooks, 979-492-7735, blbrooks@ag.tamu.edu

Ben Smith, 979-220-9809, ben.smith@ag.tamu.edu

CEDAR PARK – The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will present a Watch UR BAC impaired driving awareness program from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 6 at Austin Community College, 1555 Cypress Creek Road in Cedar Park.

“AgriLife Extension, through a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, is able to go to venues throughout the state to teach Texans about the dangers of alcohol misuse — including binge drinking and alcohol poisoning — as well as the dangers of impaired driving and riding with someone who is impaired,” said Bobbi Brooks, Watch UR BAC program manager, College Station.

Brooks said Watch UR BAC — the BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration — uses a modern interactive approach with its audiences, engaging them through technology and impactful presentations by or about those affected by impaired driving.

A simulator showing the effects of drunken or impaired driving is used during the Watch UR BAC vehicle safety awareness program. (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo)

At the program, a DWI driving simulator will be used to demonstrate the effect of alcohol on driving skills. Through a video game-type scenario, drivers experience obstacles and hazards similar to those if driving while impaired. Special vision-distorting goggles are worn by the driver during the simulation to further duplicate the effects of driving while intoxicated.

“In pretty much all states, there are a large number of fatalities of people 25 and under due to vehicle accidents, and many of those are related to DWI,” said Ben Smith, AgriLife Extension family and community health program coordinator, College Station.

Smith said 960 Texans were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2015 and tens of thousands were injured.

“According to Texas Department of Transportation statistics, there were 336 DWI crashes in Williamson County in 2015, resulting in 13 fatalities,” he said.

Smith said the timing for presenting the program at Austin Community College is important.

“When we spoke with the college, the administrators were interested in having this program the week before the students begin their spring break,” he said. “There’s typically an increase in drinking over the break, and both the college and AgriLife Extension were very interested in getting the safe driving message out and helping students get safely through spring break.”

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