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Impaired driving test yields surprising results

Posted at 9:29 PM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-03 13:26:04-04

MUSKOGEE, OK (KJRH) — When an officer sees a swerving car, it can be difficult to tell what's going on in the driver's seat. But a first-of-its kind test paved the road for a new kind of training in Oklahoma.

An experiment set out to show just how different drivers react to being drunk, being high, and staring at a phone. It's an idea Oklahoma Natural Grass CEO Todd Mitchem got from a test he had organized and run in Colorado that he wanted to bring to his new home state.

"The entire point is to say look, driving impaired, whether it's alcohol, marijuana, or you're texting and you're distracted, this is a risk. It's a risk not worth it," Mitchem said. "What the data shows us is that we have a lot of work to do in this industry, as well as the alcohol industry, and even the phone industry to be able to say consumers need more awareness. They need to stop impaired driving, and we have a lot more work to do."

Police got the opportunity to see how texting, marijuana, and alcohol progressively affected driving habits.

"We were able to see their driving manners in all three of those conditions, and correlate them and see what their characteristics were," said Officer Steven Warrior, who's an instructor with the Muskogee Police Department. "The alcohol people seemed to take risks, they drove the course fast, but the marijuana drivers - they drove extremely slow."

Mitchem says as the day went on, the marijuana drivers slowed their time by 10 to 15 percent each round, while the alcohol drivers raced around the course, cutting their time by 10 to 15 seconds each round.

"The instructor told us one of the most surprising pieces for him was that the texters were by far the most terrifying group," Mitchem said. "The reason he said that was because the alcohol and marijuana drivers at least were making an attempt to drive, the texting drivers were not even looking at the road until it was too late."

At the end of the day, the data showed drinking drivers finished the course in half the time of the high drivers, but hit more cones with each passing round. Mitchem says it was an important experience for police, but also one that spoke volumes for the event's sponsors.

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