Getting the message out

Monique Chiasson
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TRURO - As soon as Victoria Hutchinson placed the glasses over her eyes, she knew something was wrong.
"This is kinda scary," said the Truro teenager as she tried to keep her balance and strained for proper vision at the Truro Mall last week.
Hutchinson, 16, was one of many people who tried a pair of fatal vision goggles during an Operation Red Nose information session.
The goggles are used while people try to walk a straight line, a simulation of how it would feel and appear if you were an impaired driver.
Truro police, RCMP, Operation Red Nose and MADD Cobequid representatives joined forces to present the information session as the annual campaign began in Truro. The campaign has volunteers driving people to their destination after they have consumed alcohol so the risk of drinking and driving is reduced.
"This is hard because you don't realize you are not on the line," said Hutchinson, who at first believed she was doing well, only to discover she was, in fact, about a foot away from the designated target.
"You are looking down and seeing a bunch of lines so I bet you don't realize how intoxicated you are. I'll remember this experience," she said.
RCMP Const. Cheryl Penny said the teenager grasped the point being made: impaired drivers think they are seeing the road OK but their judgment is skewed.
"Impairment is impairment and it affects everyone differently," Penny said, as another person tried the same exercise.
"It makes you dizzy and disoriented. It's nauseating," said Tom Falle of Truro, who tried goggles simulating having a blood alcohol level of .08 and .17. He was about 15 inches over the line.
"I'm shocked," he replied.
Truro's Patty Cook was thrilled to see the exercise.
"Your perception is totally, totally messed up," she said after giving it a try. "The line looked like it was curved and I even feel dizzy and woozy."
Her father was killed by a drunk driver when she was only four years old. Cook is happy to see more public awareness campaigns taking place, especially near Christmas when there are more parties and drinking.
"Young people need a wakeup call and older people used to think it was acceptable to have a drink and drive, and it's really not," said Cook.
Operation Red Nose regional chairwoman Rachel Kennedy reminds people Operation Red Nose is now operating in Truro. If
you need a drive and have had something to drink, call 897-1676 during designated hours and three volunteers will be dispatched. Two will take you to your destination using your vehicle; the third person follows for safety reasons and to get volunteers back to the dispatch centre.

Organizations: RCMP

Geographic location: TRURO

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