'A lot of close calls': Mobile classroom uses VR to teach students the dangers of impaired driving
Stephanie Villella, CTV Kitchener
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 7:28PM EST
CAMBRIDGE – The MADD Canada Mobile Classroom rolled into Preston Public School to give students a hands-on look of driving under the influence.
The classroom travels across Ontario, teaching over 15,000 fourth to sixth grade students a year the importance of driving sober.
The lesson starts with virtual reality, putting students behind the wheel.
"It made me feel a little scared, I was nervous because we were swerving and there were a lot of close calls," says student Isabelle Marriott.
The classroom on wheels also educates students on what to do if their friends or family members get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If the age rang seems young, that's because these students are about to enter a phase of their lives where impaired driving could become a reality.
"Studies show that 14 per cent of Grade 6 students at age 11 have tried alcohol and drugs," says Harrison Hull, the classroom facilitator.
"So that's why we're targeting Grade 4, 5 and 6 students to talk about it early, so that, when they're in a situation where alcohol and drugs are present at a young age, they know what the risks and consequences are."
The classroom uses interactive games to get the message out.
But for students, the most impactful message came from getting in the drivers' seat, experiencing impaired driving first hand.
"It really gets them to understand what that looks like, what that might feel like, so that when they are faced with that peer pressure, they choose not to drive impaired because they had the experience here and know it was bad and they wouldn't want to do it," says Dawn Regan, COO of MADD Smartwheels.
To end the class, students listen to a personal story of loss, showing them how driving impaired can impact somebody's life.
MADD Canada says the goal of the classroom is to have this generation make changes so that they won't drive impaired.