Airmen learn about drunk driving in non-routine way

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Driving while impaired is not a permissible activity. However, 153rd Airlift Wing student flight trainees got to do this - drive a motorized vehicle, under close supervision, while under the influence of alcohol. Or at least that is what the beer goggles they wore simulated as they drove through a course dotted with orange cones.

"It was nerve racking already without the goggles, but it was terrifying with them," said trainee Bailey Ammerman, a future cyber transport specialist assigned to the 153rd Command and Control Squadron.

When airmen join the Guard they are accustomed to receiving regular briefings about the consequences of drunk driving, yet every year military members are killed in drunk driving incidents. Jenny Rigg, the director of psychological health, wanted airmen to learn what drinking and driving is like rather than just showing them a presentation on a screen.

The trainees drove without the beer goggles first, navigating the course and missing
cones. Then, when they put the goggles on, each driver ran over cones regularly.

"Having confidence in your driving [ability] doesn't help your vision if you're drunk," said trainee David Dunn, a future fire protection specialist assigned to the 153rd Civil Engineering Squadron.

It was mostly joking each time someone stumbled while walking the mock sobriety test line, or ran over the safety cones. The training was designed to be fun, but it was also intended to be impactful.

"I've been told a lot of this," said Ammerman. "But experiencing it makes it feel more real, and it scares me to even think about doing it."

Senior Master Sgt. James Lambert, student flight noncommissioned officer in charge, said knowledge like this is critical to jumpstarting their careers.

"I believe this fun training sets the foundation for the awareness of being under the influence of alcohol," he said, adding that good choices can affect people in positive ways, and bad choices can ruin careers.

This allows them to make a choice, Lambert said. These choices, he added, can have positive or negative effects on themselves, their careers and others.