Ford has come up with an ingenious way of showing young people the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs. They’ve built a ‘drugged driving’ simulation suit that accurately replicates the effects of being high. Driving while wearing the suit will now be a compulsory module in the company’s worldwide driver education program, ‘Ford Driving Skills for Life’.
The suit, developed in collaboration with scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Germany, is specially engineered to simulate distortion of the senses. It comes with padding, ankle weights, goggles, and headphones, all of which create the effect of reduced mobility and vision. So anyone wearing the suit will experience slower reaction time, distorted vision, and poor coordination. The goggles create tunnel vision while the headphones play random distracting sounds. Knee and elbow bandages slow limb movement, a neck brace limits head movement, while tremor generators make the hands shake uncontrollably.
Photo: Ford video caption
“We know that some drugs can cause trembling hands, so we incorporated a device into the suit that creates just such a tremor,” said Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel, CEO of the Meyer-Hentschel Institute. “Drug users sometimes see flashing lights in their peripheral field, an effect recreated by our goggles, while imaginary sounds are generated by headphones. Additionally, the goggles distort perception, and produce colorful visual sensations – a side effect of LSD use.”
IBTimes UK reporter Alistair Charlton, who was invited to try the suit at Ford’s Dunton Technical Center in Essex, wrote: “I put on the suit, stumbled towards the car, dropped myself into the driver’s seat and boldly went where my brain really, really didn’t want me to go.”
Photo: Ford Europe
“Starting a car and putting on the seat belt with my vision so badly impaired by the suit’s goggles was a major psychological challenge in itself, before the physical challenges even began,” he added. “It just feels so wrong. An evolution of Ford’s drink-drive equipment, the way the goggles cause blurry double vision was spookily familiar to anyone who knows their way around an Oceana nightclub.”
“Clearly this was a weird experience. The memory of feeling horribly uncomfortable putting my seat belt on and setting off with a passenger in the back, with my vision badly affected, will stick with me.”
Ford’s initiative is a response to surveys that accurately show how deadly ‘drugged driving’ could be. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the US, a whopping 9.9 million people admitted to driving under the influence of drugs. A government survey in the UK that showed that people believe it’s more acceptable to drive after taking drugs than driving while drunk. The truth, however, is that as many as 200 deaths per year in the UK can be attributed to driving under the influence of drugs, including, but not limited to cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and heroin.