Ford’s new Drug Suit simulates dangers of driving under the influence
Mon 23 Nov 2015
American automaker Ford has designed a unique suit which simulates the effects of being under the influence of drugs behind the wheel. The Drug Driving Suit aims to highlight the dangers of driving after taking cannabis, cocaine and heroin, among other illegal substances.
Simulated reactions include slowed reaction time, distorted vision, hand tremors and poor coordination. The suit will be used as part of Ford’s Driving Skills for Life programme which targets young drivers, providing hands-on training courses and online tuition in hazard recognition, vehicle handling and distraction awareness.
“Driving after taking illegal drugs can have potentially fatal consequences for the driver, their passengers, and other road users,” said Jim Graham, manage of the programme. “We have already seen how the Drink Driving Suit has a dramatic effect on those who wear it behind the wheel, and are confident that the Drug Driving Suit will have a similar impact.”
Drug driving remains a serious problem worldwide among young drivers, with drivers 30 times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash after taking drugs. The same European study found that one in ten people would accept a lift from friends, even in full knowledge that they have taken illegal drugs.
The technology behind the Drug Driving Suit involves manipulating padding, ankle weights, goggles and headphones to simulate side effects. “We know that some drugs can cause trembling hands, so we incorporated into the suit a device that creates just such a tremor,” explained lead scientist and CEO at the German Meyer-Hentschel Institute, Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel. “Drug users sometimes see flashing lights in their peripheral field, an effect recreated by our goggles, while imaginary sounds are generated by the headphones. Additionally, the goggles distort perception, and produce colourful visual sensations – a side effect of LSD use.”
According to figures collected by the research team, an average of 400 people are arrested every month on drug driving-related charges in the UK. It is estimated that illegal drugs are a factor in around 200 deaths a year.