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Drunk goggles: What it's like to drive over the limit

2017-03-17 14:08


TAKE ME HOME, I'M DRUNK! News24 staffers participate in a drunk goggles experience. Above Duncan Alfreds tries to find his way about with the vision impairing tools. Image: YouTube

Cape Town - On March 17, News24 reported ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni has been sentenced to a R30 000 fine or 90 days in jail, but this will be effectively halved on condition he is not again convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol for five years, the Cape Town Regional Court heard on Friday.

Wheels24 reported earlier in March that parking off and opening the car boot to have a few drinks on the road is a tradition of sorts for many South Africans. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), South Africa tops the list of drunk-driving related deaths in the world. And, according to the latest Global Status report on Road Safety for 2015, 58% of deaths are alcohol related.

Serious concern has been voiced over the continued tendency to drink and drive in 2017, MasterDrive SA claims. National Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters, is one of the people concerned about this habit and is proposing changing drinking and driving to a schedule five offence, which is the same category under which murder falls. 
Managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says while he commends this step he is not convinced it will bring about big enough change, fast enough.

Herbert says: "The move to change the blood alcohol level to 0%, which was started almost two years ago, still has not come to fruition. I believe the greatest potential to bring about real change lies in changing mindsets of drivers. Yet, this still remains the biggest challenge to reducing drinking and driving."

Many people, especially those who have sat behind the wheel of a car intoxicated, are fully aware of the dangers of doing so.

READ: R15 000 fine or 45 days in jail for Yengeni


Yet, why do so many people continue to drive even when they are well over the limit? There could be many reasons for this, including embarrassment to ask for help or more dangerously, an underestimation of just how much you have had to drink.

What if you could simulate drunk driving? Enter 'Drunk Goggles'...

Eye-opening experience

MasterDrive brand manager, Penny Wagner, brought along "impairment goggles" to the News24 offices to show us what it's like to drive while drunk but without actually consuming alcohol.

What do you think should be done to curb drunk driving in SA?  Email us or reach us via Facebook  and Twitter.

It's definitely an eye-opening experience for anyone who believes they can drive while drunk.

How it works:

MasterDrive, a defensive driver training company, uses alcohol, drug and sleep deprivation goggles which are among the best tools to enhance safety training and highlight substance abuse. The vision-distorting goggles simulate visual and cognitive effects of intoxication from alcohol, drugs or fatigue.

Impairment Goggles (such as those used by MasterDrive) use vision-distorting lenses to simulate the effects of intoxication including visual distortion, double-vision, reduced peripheral vision and altered depth perception.

Fin24's Duncan Alfreds already fails at the start of the test...

Poor reflexes

MasterDrive says: "If every person could more accurately and clearly remember their experience while driving drunk, would they be more wary to drive intoxicated? Yet, as memory creation, transfer and recollection is affected by alcohol, it is highly unlikely you would accurately remember your trip home. That is, if you made it home.

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Wagner says: "These goggles are very accurate. Obviously people put the goggles on and say they’ve never been that drunk. When you drink steadily in the evening, you don’t realise how bad your reflexes become. It doesn’t give the sensation of drinking alcohol or taking drugs but it distorts your vision to the level that you should be when intoxicated or have taken drugs – prescription or any other form.

Wagner goes on to say: "People can never believe how bad their reactions were. And some people don’t even drink. But the most important exercise is to teach you that you may go out with your family on a Friday night and be completely responsible – but that is the reaction of the road user who’s next to you.

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"So if his vision is so distorted, his temper is going to be as distorted so there’s no point engaging with somebody like that."

'It was surreal'

Fin24's technology writer Duncan Alfreds, who experienced the goggles, said: "It was surreal. You kind of think you’re aware of where you are but you not. You have no idea exactly. It’s a similar experience for those who might have been high."

Why use 'drunk googles'?

MasterDrive says the goggles are an effective way to encourage people to avoid drinking and driving because it is a real-time demonstration of how dangerous it is to drive under the influence. Drivers can experience reduced alertness, slowed reaction time, visual disturbances and perception changes of drunken driving while in a sober state.

According to the company, its uses the goggles to promote safe driving. If you would like to experience the effects of driving drunk, albeit completely sober, give MasterDrive a call.


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