Goggle walk an eye-opening experience

Allen Laman/The Herald
Forest Park senior Tanler Schnarr balances while walking and wearing a pair of impairment goggles in the school's gymnasium on Friday. "It's harder than it looks," he said after maneuvering through a course set up in the gym. "And it's just really crazy how it messes with your function of how you move and cooperate."


FERDINAND — Students stumbled while trying to walk in straight lines, struggled to stand on one leg, epically missed basketball layups, chucked dodgeballs far outside a nearby target, and in general, messily wobbled around a gymnasium at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School on Friday morning.

You might have wondered about their sobriety — if it weren’t for the bulky goggles smacked to their faces. Kids in the school’s criminal justice and health classes were given the chance to strap on the impairment lenses and take a twisty lap around the gym ahead of the long weekend.

Josh Smith, school resource officer at Southeast Dubois Schools, led the exercise, which he designed to be an educational tool for the students.

He knows that peer pressure can lead to situations with drinking. And he hoped that Friday’s simulation would deter participants from driving while under the influence.

“The mental perception going into the night of drinking, or the night of whatever you might be doing, you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll be fine at the end of the night to drive,'” Smith said. “But then, obviously the first thing that goes when you drink is your decision-making. And hopefully this is an exercise that will help them think twice in the future.”

Activities that were part of the course were selected intentionally by Smith. Students started with a walk and turn and one-leg stand, both of which are standard field sobriety tests. They were then tasked with shooting a basketball at a hoop and throwing a ball at a target — actions that replicate how drivers aim their vehicle’s path.

At the end of the trail, participants finished by scribbling their signature on a piece of paper.

“Small, mundane tasks seem like they would be easy,” Smith said, “and they’re actually challenging when you have those (the goggles) on.”

Devon Osborn, a sophomore at the school, said after his lap around the gym that the experience wasn’t what he expected. He wore the substance goggles during his walk, and instead of warping his surroundings like the alcohol lenses would have, the substance frames trapped him in a blurring and dizzying kaleidoscope that made movement a challenge.

He encouraged readers to think about the potential consequences of their actions.

“Just think before you do something,” Devon said as the class period wrapped up. “Because it can impact you in the future. If you go drink, you can crash, and get in trouble and possibly go to jail. Just be smart about your decisions and don’t make stupid ones.”

Tanler Schnarr, a senior, said after his walk that it was a good learning experience. It helped him understand how alcohol can “potentially mess [with] your brain and how you function.”

In an attempt to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities during this upcoming holiday weekend, Indiana State Police will be participating in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign.

Indiana State Police will be conducting overtime patrols seeking out dangerous and impaired drivers through Labor Day. These patrols are supported with funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and distributed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

Smith urged readers to enjoy the weekend safely. Plan ahead of time, he said, or call someone for a ride if you are too intoxicated to drive.

“The last thing we want is anything bad to happen to anybody,” he said.

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