New Illinois Program Shows Students Reality of Drinking and Driving

ROCKFORD, Illinois- A typical driver’s education course consists of memorizing rules of the road…and knowing just how hard you need to press on the accelerator to get the car going. Thanks to a program called “Operation Prism,” students will soon get more hands-on experience.

Rock Valley College handed over a $9,000 check to the Illinois State Police this morning. It’s just one of the many contributions to a program designed to show how much responsibility comes along with a driver’s license.

According to Captain Ken Kaupas of the Illinois State Police, “We have to realize that the first group we’re going to serve are the people that I think we have the most impact on and those are the kids that have not been behind the wheel yet, but perhaps at the age they feel they have all the answers to life.”

With a little help from fatal vision goggles and a golf cart, “Operation Prism” simulates what a person sees and does when they’re far from sober. Police says it’s a reality check that students should learn now before they make a deadly mistake later. “We put the students through a series of sobriety tests, so they have an opportunity to see what’s its like to actually drive impaired.”

So far, high school students in Lena have been the only ones lucky enough to test out the program. Capt. Kaupas says, “The impact on the students was overwhelming. I’ve been involved in law enforcement for 18 years and I’ve never seen the impact that this program had on students.”

Another visual aid used in the program is a video showing graphic effects of driving under the influence. The total cost to fund “Operation Prism” is $20,000. As of Tuesday May 3rd, over $17,000 has been raised.