While the rate of drinking and driving is on the decline across the country, driving under the influence of drugs may be on the increase. Drugged driving does not only involve illicit drugs like heroin or methamphetamines. Under California law, a driver can be arrested for impaired driving under medical marijuana, prescription medications, or even some over-the-counter pills. Instead of testing the effects of a drug on your driving ability, people can now try on a suit to see what drugged driving may be like.
The Ford Motor Corporation is touring the country with its 13th Ford Driving Skills for Life program, with at least one stop here in California. The program is intended to “expand focus on pedestrian safety, drowsy driving and the need to buckle up behind the wheel.” According to Ford, by the end of the year, the driving skills program will have reached one million people in more than 30 countries. New this year is a Drugged Driving Suit that is designed to show people the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs.
While the program included a drunk driving suit in past years, the drugged driving suit can purportedly simulate the effects of a variety of drugs, including stimulants, depressants, and hallucinogens. With the suit, drivers can operate a car on a closed course or virtual driving machine to see how the drugs may affect their vision, reaction times, and overall ability to drive.
The suit, which also includes a tremor generator to make the driver's hands shake, was developed in partnership with scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Saarbrücken, Germany. The suit also includes goggles which distort vision, headphones to confuse the wearer, and bandages and weights to restrict movement and alter balance.
Although the program is open to drivers of any age, it was established in 2003 with “the mission of teaching newly licensed drivers the necessary skills for safe driving and the importance of making good decisions behind the wheel.”
One tester from a car-related website showed his experience testing out the Drugged Driving Suit under the combined effects of drugs and alcohol. The tester experienced difficulties simulating a field sobriety test, and once behind the wheel of a virtual driving experience, crashed the virtual car within seconds.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, in 2013 about 40% of drivers involved in fatal car accidents tested positive for drugs in their system. That number is almost as high as the percentage of drivers killed in alcohol-related accidents. According to a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 20% of surveyed drivers tested positive for drugs or medication.
At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending drivers facing drugged driving and DUI charges in the East Bay. With over 30 years of DUI experience, Lynn Gorelick understands what it means to fight for you. Contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who will stand up for your rights, so you can keep your license to drive.