WOOD COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - More than 14 people on average die each year from alcohol-related crashes in Wood County. And nationally, the number-one killer of teens is distracted driving.
Those sobering statistics is motivating Wood County to fight those trends with brand new equipment.
Wood County recently purchased a simulator to help drivers understand why getting behind the wheel when drunk or distracted is a deadly decision.
"If we have just one person that we can save their life, that's one person that's safe tonight and is going home to their family and loved ones," said Sandy
Wiechman, Safe Communities Coordinator for Wood County.
Safe Communities of Wood County tested their brand-new driving simulator Monday for the first time.
It allows users to see how much driving impaired or distracted can really affect their control behind the wheel.
The technology cost more than $10,000, but was funded with donations, some from neighboring communities like Rossford. Their police chief says it will be helpful for his department.
"I can talk to somebody about what the consequences are. And the average person always, almost always thinks it's not going to happen to them," explained Rossford Police Chief Glenn Goss. "So this really puts them, literally, in the driver's seat and they get to see it can happen to them."
The simulator gives you directions as you drive the route. And most find it nearly impossible.
The technology also shows the repercussions of your decisions, whether a court sentence, hospital visit or car repairs. They want drivers to shift their mindset to focus on safety.
"I can't wait for Wood County to experience it and go, 'Boy it is dangerous.'" said Wiechman. "'I'm not going to do that again. I'm going to call for a ride. I'm going to throw my phone in the backseat. I'm going to turn it off because it can only take one time and I don't want to risk that one time.'"
Safe Communities of Wood County already has big plans for their simulator whether at the county fair or schools like Otsego.
School officials say they plan to use the technology ahead of their prom to promote safe driving to and from the dance.
Several agree the driving simulator will be beneficial for hundreds across Wood County.