Avoiding all distractions while behind the wheel of your vehicle is what Harker Heights High School senior Daquan Manzano took away from this year’s Safety Fair held Feb. 8.

The annual fair concluded Safety Week at the high school, said David Smith, student activities coordinator.

Manzano was one of the first students to test their driving skills on a simulated distracted driving course set up inside his school’s cafeteria.

“It was actually pretty difficult,” he said. “With the signs in your face and doing what they tell you to do while trying to pay attention to the road at the same time is hard, but I got through it.”

Senior class vice president Julia Garcia took charge of the course with the help of soldiers from the Heights Army recruiting station who used noise and visual distraction tactics to test the students.

“A lot of people get distracted very easily, and this is simulating that, because a lot of people don’t understand how much it affects their capabilities of driving responsibly,” Garcia said

Another portion of the fair was the night driving course, which included “drunk goggles” that made students nauseous.

“It just makes you think about how other people drive and drink and how dangerous it could be for you even though you are not the one drinking and driving,” Alexis Cox, a junior, said. “It’s kind of scary if you think about it.”

Similar simulations were displayed that made students experience what it’s like to drive intoxicated in the daytime.

“It was crazy,” Junior Emily Flanery said. “It makes me think how when people are driving intoxicated that they might see a car coming one way, but its actually coming towards them so they could get someone hurt really easily.”

Aside from learning about the harms of drugs and alcohol, the Harker Heights Fire Department was also on hand to inform students about fire safety and what to do in the event of an emergency.

“They are the building block of our generation and what they learn they could save a life tomorrow or even their own,” acting Lt. Cody Newman said.

This was the fourth year the high school held the safety fair, and Smith said it continues to be a success.

“Every year after I do it I’ll have kids come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know this until the safety fair’ or ‘I didn’t realize how distracting texting was,’” he said.’ “So I think it works even if they don’t always tell us.”

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