Reporter takes sleep aid, drives in simulator

Driving expert warns against taking sleep aids, driving

SAN ANTONIO - KSAT reporter Matt Rivers is not a good driver — at least when he's under the influence of a prescription sleep aid.

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In fact, according to driving expert Greg Vichon, no one is.

To show the effects of attempting to drive while under the influence of a sleep aid, Rivers took an Ambien and then took a spin in a driving simulator at Simulated Virtual Driver in Coppell, just north of Dallas.

“Our simulators use real car parts, including seats, gas and brake pedals, and steering wheels,” said Vichon, the owner of Simulated Virtual Driver.

Typically, his systems are used to help people learn how to drive better under varying conditions.

“We can put people through rain, nighttime, daytime, and quick-reaction courses,” said Vichon.

He admitted, however, that this is his first time allowing someone to use his system while under the influence of Ambien.

Rivers took a simulated drive before he took an Ambien, as a control for the unofficial experiment.

Around 8 p.m., he took an Ambien, and then drove in the simulator about 90 minutes later.

The results were dramatic.

He said he was all over the road, turned into the wrong lane several times, drifted into the oncoming lane several times, all while either driving too fast or too slow.

He said he then took a quick nap and tried again at midnight. The results were just as bad.

“You were horrific,” Vichon told Rivers the morning after the tests. “I certainly would not have wanted to be in a car with you.”

Vichon said it was very similar to how intoxicated drivers perform in the simulators.

Taking prescription sleep aids and driving has been a problem recently in San Antonio, most notably in the case involving Julie Bronson.

Bronson had taken a sleep aid after drinking several glasses of wine. She then drove and nearly killed a mother and her daughter after running into them.


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