ADAPT's 'drunk goggles' help Airmen see clearly
By Airman 1st Class Veronica Cruz, Air Force Academy Public Affairs
/ Published December 17, 2012
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Christmas might be a time for celebrating, but should Airmen decide to mix their holidays with alcohol, its best they keep their "Drunk Goggles" from behind the wheel.
To highlight National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month and familiarize Airmen with the dangers of drinking and driving, local Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program experts held a special event Tuesday at the 10th Medical Group lobby.
At the event, Airmen were invited to try negotiating a driving simulation and obstacle course while wearing special goggles designed to simulate the effects of alcohol impairment.
"They had various level of goggles to represent different blood alcohol contents and at one point I was trying on the worst," said Senior Airman Brandon Caves, a medical logistics technician with the 10th Medical Support Squadron
Cave's goggles simulated a blood alcohol content of 0.10, two percentage points above Colorado's legal blood alcohol content limit of 0.08.
"Wearing those goggles produces probably the most surreal dizziness you could ever imagine," Caves said. "The goggles throw off your equilibrium and make it completely impossible to focus on one thing at a time because you're seeing three images at once."
The "Drunk Goggles" had drastically hampered Caves' ability to successfully navigate through the short obstacle course, consisting of a straight-line walking test and turns, Caves said.
"I wasn't falling down, but there is no way a person could have run the course with those goggles on," said Caves.
Caves likened the driving simulation to a "fast paced video game."
"I couldn't even see," he said. "I was crashing every five seconds."
Caves wasn't the only driver who should have checked his keys in at the door.
"There were points where people were crashing into walls and racing the wrong way," he said. "They couldn't even tell what they were doing."
The main purpose of the event was to convince Airmen that it's never acceptable to drink and drive, said Brian Petrovich, a clinical psychologist and the academy's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment program manager.
"People often think that they're OK to drive after they've been drinking but they aren't aware of what drunken or even tipsy driving does to their performance," said Mr. Petrovich. "Many times the drinker is unaware of a problem until they cross the line which can result in a DUI, disruptive conduct or various other illegal activities."
Along with taking two hours for one drink to clear a person's system, alcohol can cloud a person's judgment and cause them to act impulsively, said Mr. Petrovich.
Some of this behavior has led to more than more than 120 ADAPT referrals here between January and September.
The price for Airmen caught driving under the influence of alcohol is steep. If charged, they face losing their base driving privileges for a year, reduction in pay and rank, the likelihood of receiving an Article 15 and even separation from the Air Force.
"Commanders have very little choice in these cases because they must take action to ensure that the mission is not affected again" Mr. Petrovich said.
Goggles or no goggles, Airman Caves said the experience was an eye-opener.
"It really showed you the effect of alcohol," he said. "You might not think it can get that bad, but it can."