Circuit Court uses high-tech tool to help students make smart driving choices
Released on 5/11/2012 4:09:56 PM

Chicago, Illinois (April 30, 2001) To educate young drivers on the dangers of alcohol, speed and poor judgement, the Circuit Court of Cook County will conduct its annual Smart Choices traffic safety program for approximately 800 Chicago public high school students from April 30, 2001, through May 4, 2001, at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

Cook County Chief Judge Donald P. O'Connell said, "Our goal is to provide early intervention to students through educational programs such as Smart Choices to help them develop a positive attitude regarding the critical need for safety while driving at all times."

This year the Smart Choices program will feature a new and innovative tool to inform students about safe driving called the SmartDrive Simulation Trainer. Used by students on the Smart Choices driving range temporarily set up in the parking lot at Comiskey Park, the SmartDrive Simulation Trainer is a high-tech device that simulates the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, of speeding and of taking unnecessary risks. The device allows students to compare the difference between driving in a normal state and in a simulated intoxicated state.

Judge Patrick E. McGann, Supervising Judge of the Chicago Traffic Center and Chairperson of the Circuit Court of Cook County District One Community Safety Initiative, praised the new device. "The trainer uses cognitive, audio, visual, tactile and emotional stimuli to give the student a first-hand experience of the serious dangers of driving under the influence." Judge McGann noted that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for persons ages 15 to 20 years old.

Commander Dave Dougherty of the Chicago Police Department agreed the SmartDrive Simulation Trainer is a powerful interactive learning experience for students. "The SmartDrive Simulation Trainer leaves a strong impression on students about the dangers of unsafe driving that we hope they will share with their friends, " Commander Dougherty said.

Students attending the Smart Choices program also participate in a workshop called Truth & Consequences in which they become victims of a fictitious crash to experience the serious consequences that can ensue. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a second workshop called Think First which instructs students on how to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries when traveling in a motor vehicle. The workshop also features persons with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries who share with the students how their lives were unalterably changed by their injuries.

The Smart Choices program is a partnership supported by the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety; the Chicago Police Department; the Chicago Public Schools; the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago; and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.

Funding for the Smart Choices program is by a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety.