Metroland Media reporter tests out goggle simulating impaired drivingHigh school students were allowed to drive impaired in north Etobicoke Wednesday. And they each had a police officer beside them.
The students were taking part in Ford Motor Company’s Driving Skills for Life program, which included taking a drive wearing goggles that simulate alcohol impairment.
The event took place in a closed parking lot at Woodbine Racetrack.
“We want to demonstrate to them that there should be a zero tolerance for impairment and driving,” said Dave Drimmie, a Ford instructor. “They’re going to run over cones, they’re going to weave in and out of the lane, they’re going to either driver very slowly or very quickly, all issues that will demonstrate to them that it’s not safe to drive a vehicle impaired.”
Grade 12 student Ryan Harris said the program changed his perspective, literally.
“You put the goggles on and everything is blurry,” he said. “You don’t know where everything is. It shows you how hard it is to actually drive drunk and how unsafe it is.”
One goggle mimics how a person sees after a couple of drinks while another after four or five drinks.
“We have fun in this simulation. But it’s not fun when it’s done in your own motor vehicle,” instructor Ralph Stotschek told students.
The teens were cautioned about the three d’s: drunk driving, drugged driving and distracted driving.
“If you think you could do it, you’ll find out the hard way that it cannot be done,” Stotschek warned.
Const. Ryan Willmer of 23 Division said he hopes the program would deter teens “from making the wrong decisions.”
“It gives youth the opportunity to see what it’s really like to drive impaired.”
Willmer said he has come across young drunk drivers countless times over the past decade.
Their typical reaction after being pulled over by the constable: “I was drinking and I thought I could drive.”
“Some ended up in bad accidents and some ended up with me stopping them before they got into an accident,” said Willmer, adding there were also those who “couldn’t be charged because they died.”
Seeing the carnage by impaired drivers first hand is troubling, the officer said in an interview.
“It makes me think: Why isn’t the message getting out. There are so many campaigns. … We’ve got to figure out a way to make it click. This could be it,” he said, referring to the driving skills for life program.
Participants also had a lesson on vehicle handling and distracted driving and could also try on a special suit that simulates drug impairment.