31 March 2014

Most young drivers have driven drunk or seen pals drink and drive

A new Ford-sponsored survey shows most young drivers in Europe report either having driven while drunk, or have seen friends drink and drive, writes Trish Whelan.

The survey of 5,000 drivers aged from 18-24 also reveals one third have accepted a ride from someone under the influence of alcohol; and two thirds admit they don't know the legal alcohol limit for driving, in their own country.

Ford commissioned the poll to better understand the habits and attitudes of young drivers regarding drinking and driving. The survey of drivers from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK, showed that young men from Spain (74%) were the most likely to have driven while drunk, or seen friends drink and drive, ahead of young men from Germany (65%), and France (64%). Overall, 26 percent of those who admitted they had driven while drunk believed they could still drive safely.

"Drinking and driving is a potentially lethal combination and the results of this survey underline the importance of making young drivers in particular award of that message," said Eddie Murphy, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland. "Here in Ireland, a survey on behalf of the Road Safety Authority has shown that 87 percent of the Irish public say that drinking and driving is extremely shameful. More so 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 last year introduced their Ford Driving Skills for Life, the company's award-winning free young driver training programme, and has now developed a 'Drink Driving Suit' that impairs visibility, co-ordination and balance.

Consisting of tunnel-vision glasses; ear muffs, wrist and ankle weights; and padding to elbows, neck, and knees; the 'Drink Driving suit' makes even simple tasks - like walking a straight line - much harder; and shows how much more difficult a more complex activity like driving becomes under the influence of alcohol.

Ford developed the 'Drink Driving Suit' with scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institut in Germany, a company specialising in research into the effects of mobility impairment. Ford has 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 Officer. "It provides a powerful way of reinforcing the serious message of what could happen when driving under the influence of excessive alcohol."

Video of Ford Drink Driving Suit in use: http://youtu.be/6D4pjOncDFE