DEARBORN, Michigan — Ford has created a "Drugged Driving Suit" that will help educate young drivers about the dangers of operating a vehicle under the influence of substances like cannabis, cocaine and heroin.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, drunk driving is on the decline, but drug use behind the wheel is increasing. The latest NHTSA data indicate that approximately 18 percent of all motor vehicle driver deaths now involve drugs other than alcohol.
To help address the problem, Ford and the Meyer-Hentschel Institute created the unique suit, which uses padding, ankle weights, goggles and headphones to simulate the reduced mobility, vision and coordination experienced by a driver under the influence of illegal substances.
In addition, the suit provides haptic feedback to mimic other drug-related impairment.
"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, in a statement. "Drug users sometimes see flashing lights in their peripheral field, an effect re-created by our goggles, while imaginary sounds are generated by the headphones. Additionally, the goggles distort perception, and produce colorful visual sensations — a side effect of LSD use."
The Drugged Driving Suit will be incorporated into the Ford Driving Skills for Life program, which has provided training to more than 500,000 teen drivers worldwide since it began in 2003, and which already includes a Drunk Driving Suit that simulates the effects of alcohol.
Training in the free program is both hands-on and Web-based, with an emphasis on building skills that go beyond standard driver-training courses, as well as issues surrounding distracted and impaired driving.
Edmunds says: Ford's Drugged Driving Suit will help give young drivers concrete exposure to the dangers of operating a vehicle while impaired.