As bad ideas go, driving while under the influence of drugs has got to be pretty high on the list. Yet in spite of the obvious dangers involved, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2013 that roughly 10 million people across the country had taken the wheel with illicit substances in their system. To help get the message out about just how foolish this is, Ford has created a drug-driving suit that simulates the dangers of driving while high.
Developed at the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Germany, the suit contains a number of features that are designed to mimic the effects of a range of drugs, including cocaine, MDMA, LSD, and cannabis. Among these are gloves that generate hand tremors, leg and arm weights that affect balance and speed, and an optical display that impairs the drivers’ vision with flashes of light and other illusionary sights. In addition, headphones produce random noises that mimic those reported by users of certain drugs, adding to the sense of disorientation and distorted perception.
As the video below shows, the suit makes operating a car extremely challenging, even for professional drivers. Naturally, it isn’t intended to be used on the road, but will be introduced into Ford’s Driving Skills For Life scheme, an educational program designed to teach new drivers certain necessary skills for road safety.
A study released earlier this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in a large sample of U.S. road accidents between 2005 and 2009, illegal drugs were present in the systems of 16 percent of drivers involved in crashes, while 18 percent of all fatal accidents involved drivers under the influence of narcotics. In a statement, Ford Driving Skills For Life program manager James Graham explained that “driving after taking illegal drugs can have potentially fatal consequences for the driver, their passengers, and other road users.” For this reason, the drug-driving suit has been developed to educate drivers about these dangers and deter them from taking such risks.