Pubdate: Thu, 09 Feb 2017
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Pamela Cowan
Page: A2


Reporter's eerie experience in simulator suit

I felt like Jimmy Hoffa with one leg encased in cement.

I was lurching because of my super heavy left leg, which made it tough
to walk and impossible to navigate in a straight line.

My ears buzzed with random sounds.

My double vision was blurry with flashing red, blue and green lights
on the periphery.

If I shut one eye I could kind of focus on what was straight ahead.
But barely.

When four tennis balls were lobbed my way, I was so uncoordinated and
my reaction time so slow I couldn't catch one. My right arm
chronically twitched and I could barely turn my neck or bend my elbows
because of my restricted movement.

I was wearing Ford's Drugged Driving Suit at the Queensbury Convention
Centre - one of the displays at the Saskatchewan Safety Council's
Industrial Safety Seminar being held in Regina this week.

The suit was developed by the Ford Motor Company in collaboration with
scientists from the Meyer-Hentshcel Institute in Germany to mimic some
effects of drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin and MDMA (ecstasy).

"This is to make sure people don't drive while they're impaired," said
Grant Bastedo, Ford spokesman.

The suit, or ones like it, have been used in demonstrations around the

"Probably the most disorienting thing is the vision impairment
glasses," Bastedo said. "What they do is produce tunnel vision and
they blur your vision the same it would be under the effects of drugs.
The headphones you put on have disorientating sounds and random
machine sounds that disorientate a person."

Elbow and knee pads put on with Velcro slow movement. A heavy weight
on one leg and a lighter weight on the opposite arm affect balance and
impede normal walking.

A tremor generator on the hand causes a tremor similar to being on a

"When you put all of those things together, when you wear it, you're
very impaired and it's a way you should never drive a vehicle,
obviously," Bastedo said.

"The great thing about the suit is you can feel what that feels like
without actually being impaired. If you talk to a police officer, they
will say that most people, when they are impaired, don't feel like
they're impaired."

I definitely felt impaired. According to SGI, many collisions that
have drugs as a contributing factor also involve alcohol. Drugs can
include illegal drugs or prescription medications.

In 2015, there were 68 police-reported collisions that had drugs as a
major contributing factor. Those collisions led to 26 injuries and two

Of the 68 collisions, only 31 didn't also have alcohol as a factor.
The 31 collisions resulted in 15 injuries and zero deaths.

As I left Queensbury, clear sighted and lighter in the leg, I pondered
the question Bastedo asked me while I was testing the drugged driving
suit: Did I feel safe to drive?


I'd be terrified to get behind the wheel of a car in that condition or
have a high driver in charge of 3,000 pounds of metal hurtling towards
me or my loved ones.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt