Half of young drivers admit to driving when drunk

Ford survey queried 5,000 motorists aged between 18 and 24 across Europe

Ford’s drink-driving suit impairs a driver’s reactions to demonstrate to them what it’s like to drive under the influence.

Ford’s drink-driving suit impairs a driver’s reactions to demonstrate to them what it’s like to drive under the influence.

Wed, Apr 2, 2014, 01:00

More than half of all young European drivers have admitted to either driving when under the influence of alcohol, or have seen friends do so. These are the findings of a survey carried out by Ford which queried 5,000 drivers aged between 18 and 24 across Europe. The study also found that a third of young drivers had accepted a lift from a friend they knew to have been drinking, while two-thirds did not know the legal blood alcohol limit for their country. Of those surveyed, 74 per cent of young male drivers in Spain were the most likely to have driven when drunk, while in Germany and France the figures were 65 per cent and 64 per cent respectively. Some 26 per cent believed that they could still drive safely while drunk.

The study was carried out as part of Ford’s pan-European Ford Driving Skills For Life programme, which seeks to train younger drivers to improve their skills and to impart good driving habits. As part of the programme, Ford has now developed a “drunk suit” which interferes with a sober driver’s faculties in order to demonstrate to them just how much their reactions and motor skills are reduced when they’ve been drinking. Consisting of tunnel-vision glasses, ear muffs, wrist and ankle weights and padding to elbows, neck and knees, the “Drunk Suit” makes even simple tasks – such as walking a straight line – much harder. It also demonstrates how much more difficult a more complex activity such as driving becomes under the influence of alcohol.

“Ford’s drink-driving suit is a clever way of enabling people who are sober to safely experience first-hand how significantly their abilities can be affected by alcohol,” said Ford Ireland chairman Eddie Murphy. “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. Drinking and driving is a potentially lethal combination and the results of this survey underline the importance of making young drivers in particular aware of that message. Here in Ireland, a survey on behalf of the Road Safety Authority has shown that 87 per cent of the Irish public say that drinking and driving is extremely shameful. In fact, they say it’s more shameful than speeding or shop lifting. However, when you realise that a third of fatal crashes here have alcohol as a factor, there is obviously a significant minority who haven’t got the message that there is no safe level of alcohol to take when you are driving.”

Ford developed the suit with scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institut in Germany. Ford has previously also produced a “third-age suit” and a “pregnancy suit” to better understand the needs of older drivers and expectant mothers.

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

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