Ford Motors Co. wants college students to experience drunk driving, but only while they wear the “suit” their company specifically designed to prevent just that.
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Alvaro Cabal, Ford’s Multicultural Communications Manager, thinks on-campus presentations in which students have a chance to try on the “drunk simulator” are one effective way of tackling the high incident of drunk driving statistics among young Latinos.
“The point is to make students feel the way they’d feel when they’re under the influence of alcohol,” said Cabal.
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“We add weights and bands around their necks and ankles and try to recreate the feeling of being drunk, the simulator helps recreate the loss of mobility and flexibility, heaviness and slower reaction times that occur as a consequence of being drunk.”
Cabal is currently on a presentation tour which will make stops at some of the largest cities in the U.S. and will visit university campuses and speak to students about the dangerous effects of drunk driving, all part of Ford’s “Driving Skills for Life” campaign.
Aside from weights and bands Cabal also provides students with plastic goggles that simulate impaired vision, another side effect of being inebriated.
“The goggles completely impair your vision and make you see double or even triple,” said Giancarlo Tapanes, 17, a Miami resident of Cuban descent who tried on the simulator suit.
“It really makes you think about how it’s not worth it to feel that way and get in a car and put yourself and the life of somebody else in danger.”
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Tapanes added, “When you’re doing the test you actually do think you’re walking straight and that you’re on the line, it’s an interesting experience.”
During Cabal’s school visits, student’s wearing the suit simulator also have the opportunity of getting behind the wheel within a closed course.
“When we look at numbers more than half of Hispanic teenagers have said that they have driven under the influence,” said Cabal adding that 56% of 17-24 year olds say they’ve driven drunk.
“I think this is a problem that’s across the board and not limited to one specific demographic but it’s important for the Hispanic community to have access to this information.”