June 7, 2016 2:07 pm
Updated: November 4, 2016 4:31 pm

‘Drugged Driving Suit’ simulates the physical impact of drug impairment

WATCH: A "Drugged Driving Suit" created by Ford is aiming to highlight the effects of driving while impaired by drugs.

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Demonstrations using drunk driving goggles are commonly used to demonstrate the effects of driving while drunk, but how about a “Drugged Driving Suit?”

Law enforcement, health officials and experts in road safety from across Canada are in Halifax this week for the 2016 Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals Conference (CARSP).

READ MORE: Race to develop pot breathalyzers for drivers

This year’s conference is centrered around “Working for Road Safety,” and participants got some hands on experience Tuesday with the Ford “Drugged Driving Suit.”

WATCH: ‘Drugged Driving Suit’ showcased at 2016 Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals Conference


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The suit — equipped with sound-blocking headphones, goggles that give tunnel vision and a neck brace that mimics difficulty in neck rotation for the user — aims to give the perception of moving while impaired by drugs.

Weights on the ankles and wrists of the suit reduce balance and make simple tasks, like walking, more difficult.

“I think it drives home the reality of impairment,” Ford representative Dave Drimmie said.

“What the suit does is it mimics the effects of drugs on your system — so the goggles mimic distortion to your visual senses, so you’re going to see two or three of things. The headphones throw off your auditory senses, so you’re going to feel like you’re in a bubble.”

The suit, developed by scientists in Germany, is being used across North America and Europe to help teach teens about safe driving.

READ MORE: Wall worried what marijuana legalization means for road safety

Despite increased police presence and numerous awareness campaigns, police in the province say impaired driving continues to be a problem in Nova Scotia, with officers seeing drivers impaired both by drugs and alcohol.

“In 2015, police across Nova Scotia have caught approximately 100 drug impaired drivers. That number is smaller than what we catch for alcohol impaired drivers but that number is on the increase,” RCMP Const. Mark Skinner said.

“There’s different attitudes towards drug impaired driving than there is alcohol impaired driving. But simply, drug impaired driving is the same as alcohol impaired driving — you can’t use drugs and drive a motor vehicle just as you can’t drink and drive a motor vehicle.”

With the legislative approach around the use of cannabis about to change under the federal government, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says officials have the opportunity to learn from what the government has previously done around tobacco and alcohol and make the sure this time, proper action is taken from the beginning.

“If it’s done from a public health perspective, we can really have an impact on decreasing use and decreasing harms, but if we just shift from an illegal product to a commercialized product, where the objective is to make money off the sale, then we’re just going to continue with the significant harms and high levels of use,” said Dr. Robert Strang.

WATCH: Leanna Kruk joins Global Calgary with a look at a special Drugged Driving Suit being used to raise awareness and road safety.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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