We always hear about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, but how about driving under the influence of drugs? That should be as dangerous as drunk driving, if not more dangerous, no?

Ford realises this and has created a unique suit to teach young people about the dangers of driving under the influence of illegal drugs. The Drugged Driving Suit was developed together with scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Germany to simulate some of the effects of drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy; including slower reaction time, distorted vision, hand tremors and poor coordination.

The new Drugged Driving Suit will be incorporated into Ford Driving Skills for Life (DSFL), the young driver programme that has provided training to more than 500,000 people around the world (including Malaysia) through hands-on and online tuition since its inception 11 years ago.

“Driving after taking illegal drugs can have potentially fatal consequences for the driver, their passengers, and other road users. We have already seen first-hand the eye-opening effect that our Drunk Driving Suit has had on those who wear it (see video below), and are confident that our new Drugged Driving Suit will have a similar impact,” said James Graham, global program manager for Ford DSFL.

Recent US data shows that drugged driving is on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 18% of all motor vehicle driver deaths involve drugs other than alcohol, such as marijuana and cocaine. A NHTSA roadside survey also found that 22% of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the US, approximately 9.9 million people 12 and older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. Similarly, a meta-analysis of multiple studies from the National Institute of Health has shown that the risk of being involved in an accident roughly doubles after marijuana use.

Like the Drunk Driving Suit that Ford incorporated into the DSFL last year, the new suit simulates the effects of reduced mobility, vision and coordination with padding and ankle weights, goggles and headphones.

“We know that some drugs can cause trembling hands, so we incorporated a device into the suit that creates just such a tremor. Drug users sometimes see flashing lights in their peripheral field, an effect recreated by our goggles, while imaginary sounds are generated by the headphones. Additionally, the goggles distort perception, and produce colorful visual sensations – a side effect of LSD use,” explained Gundolf Meyer-Hentschel, CEO of the Meyer-Hentschel Institute.

One shouldn’t be using drugs in the first place, but if you’re high or stoned, please don’t drive.