Automobile accidents are the number one cause of death to teenagers. More than one third of all US automobile accidents involve alcohol. Los Angeles Times reporter, Charles Fleming discussed, in an article, his experience wearing a special suit and “drunk goggles”. Ford Driving Skills for Life, a program through Ford Motor Co., works to educate teenage drivers on the dangers of impaired driving. The reporter got the opportunity to take these goggles and special suit on a test drive.
One cloudy morning, Fleming went to a driving course set up on the roof of the Petersen Automotive Museum. The course was designed to resemble a parking lot similar to a bar or night club. He first drove the simple course completely sober, without any issues. He then drove the same exact course wearing “drunk goggles.” He says that he had an immediate sense of inebriation. He felt dizzy, off balance, and nauseated as he sat behind the wheel. When he started to drive, he swerved and ran over a few cones set upon the course. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make the car go where he wanted, even at a slow rate of speed. By the second lap, he ran over more cones than he had before. The reporter claimed that in a real life situation he would have hit a couple of cars or run over a pedestrian.
Fleming was then instructed to wear a “drugged driving” suit to complete a field sobriety test. The suit consisted of bindings around his elbows and knees, plus weights on his ankles and wrists. He also wore a pair of “drugged driving” goggles with a feature that adds red flashing lights to eliminate peripheral vision. The field sobriety test turned out to be very difficult, immediately confirming that he was not capable to drive.
Mike Speck, a former professional race car driver who now works with Driving Skills for Life, hopes to show teens how difficult it is to drive impaired. After the training, Speck said in his interview, “They realize, if they were drunk or high, they might not even be aware that they are impaired.” This program is not available through driver training programs, but has reached 800,000 drivers in 35 countries including 41,000 US teens. The program will be visiting more cities this year, including Fresno and San Diego. The half day program is free and teenage drivers are encouraged to attend. If you are interested, click here.
To see a video of Fleming’s experience at the Ford Driving Skills for Life Program click here.