You hear the numerous warnings about driving drunk. But sometimes it just isn’t enough to stop people from doing it. Might it be different if people knew what it was like to drive drunk before they actually did it?
Ford is giving young drivers the chance to feel what it’s like to be impaired as a means to show them how dangerous it is to drive while intoxicated.
As part of its Driving Skills for Life Program, the auto maker has developed a “drunk suit” that simulates what it’s like to be intoxicated to a degree that would make driving dangerous. The suit consists of weights that offset the balance of ankles and wrists, braces that restrict the movement of joints, goggles which blur eyesight in manner that mimics the vision of an intoxicated person, and headphones that impairs hearing.
Gary Gastelu, of Fox News, recently gave the suit a run while playing a beanbag toss game. According to his report, he did not fare so well, indicating that he was consistently about 15 feet off the mark notwithstanding adjusting his technique several times.
“It’s a real out-of-body experience; it even makes it hard to think straight and speak properly, and it didn’t take long before I started feeling sick to my stomach. It’s hard to imagine any kid wanting to have a drink after going through this, let alone getting behind the wheel in such a condition.”
Although Ford would not let Gastelu drive with the full suit on, they did allow him to drive through a parking lot obstacle course wearing just the goggles.
“The pair I wore simulated a .17 blood alcohol level, just over twice the maximum legal limit in the United States. The prismatic view they create is so disorienting, that even though I took a practice run without them through a skills course Ford set up in a parking lot, I still managed to run a stop sign and hit a couple of cones. And I was driving so slowly the whole time, I surely would have caught the attention of any police officer who saw me pass by. If my eyes weren’t opened to the perils of DUI before, they definitely are now.”
Not that the intention isn’t good, but before I’d consider it a legitimate and accurate simulation of drunk driving, I’d like to know what research exists to verify that the effects replicated by the drunk suit or the goggles actually reflect that of intoxication and driving drunk.