Learn What It Feels Like to Drive Impaired
A high-tech “suit” teaches new drivers an important lesson about the dangers of drugged driving
Ford Motor Company has a cool high-tech addition to its traveling roadshow on safe driving: a "drugged driving suit" that shows teen drivers and their parents what it's really like — that is, how hard it is — to drive impaired.
The suit, which isn’t really a suit but several pieces of gear, will make its debut this year at Ford’s Driving Skills for Life clinic, a program aimed at helping new drivers and their parents. The clinic will make 15 stops in the United States this year, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.
“Our new Drugged Driving Suit is intended to complement our Drunk Driving Suit, [released in 2013,] giving students a critical eye into the consequences of impaired driving,” said Jim Graham, manager of Ford Driving Skills for Life.
(Photo: Ford Motor Company)
According to Ford, the suit includes headphones that play background sounds to confuse and distract the driver, neck bandages that restrict head movement and bandages on the knees and elbows that slow movement. Weights on the wrists and ankles slow reaction time. A “tremor generator” makes your hands shake. And vision impairment glasses produce blurred vision, flashing lights and tunnel vision.
“Wearing the entire Drugged Driving outfit would simulate taking a whole smorgasbord of illegal drugs, from stimulants, to depressants to hallucinogens, mimicking some of the effects of cocaine, marijuana and LSD. The idea is to safely show new drivers how difficult it is to drive impaired, on a closed course.”
Impaired driving is a deadly serious problem in the United States. Alcohol-related car accidents cost more than $37 billion a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2012, one person died every 51 minutes in an alcohol-related crash, the NHTSA says.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in that same year, more than 1.3 million people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. And drugs other than alcohol, such as marijuana and cocaine, are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle deaths, the CDC says.
The risk of being involved in an impaired-driving crash is much greater for young people than older people, according to the CDC.
“Despite progress in recent years, teens continue to be overrepresented in motor vehicle crashes and fatalities across the country,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, in the Ford press release. “For this reason, the association and the State Highway Safety Offices are looking forward to bringing this powerful program to even more teens and their parents.”
(Photo: Ford Motor Company)
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