Video: wearable suit shows drink drive effects

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SCOTTISH drivers will this week have their first chance to drink drive without having touched a drop.

Newly-qualified motorists are to be given the chance to get behind the wheel while wearing a specially-designed “drink driving suit” which mimics the effects of alcohol.

Picture: Ford

Picture: Ford

This impairs their ability to drive using tunnel-vision goggles, earmuffs, and weights and padding strapped to their arms and legs.

These slow movement, reduce hearing and vision, make balance more difficult and delay reactions.

The weights are placed on the opposite arm and leg to further increase the effect. The goggles also produce ghost images.

The suit will feature in Ford Driving Skills for Life courses being held at the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow from Thursday to Saturday.

The free lessons are being run by the car maker, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Automobile Association.

Ford said that even walking a straight line was a major challenge after donning the suit.

It said that underlined how much more difficult a more complex activity like driving becomes under the influence of alcohol.

Limit

The initiative come as the Scottish Government prepares to lower the drink drive limit to improve road safety.

Ministers are waiting for the UK Government to finish testing breath test equipment so it can introduce legislation at Holyrood to cut the limit from 80 to 50 mcg of alcohol in every 100 ml of blood.

Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has said one in eight deaths on Scottish roads involved drivers who are over the legal limit.

He would like to cut the limit even further for young drivers because they are more affected by low amounts of alcohol than older motorists.

Police Scotland caught more than 6,000 drink drivers in the year to March - the first as a national force.

The suit was developed by Ford and the Meyer-Hentschel Institut in Germany, which specialises in researching the effects of mobility impairment.

Ford said it was the only one of its kind in the world.

Alcohol

Institut founder and chief executive Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel said: “People trying on the drink driving suit for the first time soon find they struggle with everyday tasks they would usually take for granted – such as picking up a cup or dialling a telephone number.

“It provides a powerful way of reinforcing the serious message of what could happen when driving under the influence of excessive alcohol.”

Barb Samardzich, chief operating officer of Ford of Europe, described the suit as a “clever way of enabling people who are sober to safely experience first-hand how significantly their abilities can be affected by alcohol.

“The suit means we can show people how much more difficult even simple activities become, as well as teaching them about the dangers of drinking and driving.”

Philip Gomm, a spokesman for the RAC Foundation, said: “These suits are worth trying. It is much better that young people find out just how dangerous it is to drive while impaired before they go to the pub, rather than afterwards when they’ve had a few drinks and pose a mortal risk to themselves and others.

“It is the young who bear the brunt of drink drive accidents. Around a third of those killed or seriously injured are aged 16 to 24 and most are men.

“Every new generation of motorists needs to know the dangers of driving under the influence, and any ideas that work are to be encouraged.”

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