Recently, the Marmalade Ambassadors and competition winners headed down to Rockingham Race Circuit to learn safe driving, as well as driving a few fast motors.
One of the tasks was quite easy – how well could you drive around some cones. I thought, bring it on, but they soon made it more difficult. After then attempting to drive while texting, it was time to try out the beer goggles.
I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it would make everything blurry, but I would still be able to see where I was going. In fact, it was some weird dystopian world where the everything is flipped upside down, all I can see are orange cones in all directions – I imagine it might be how a bee sees as it was split into lots of hexagons.
We got moving, and I was driving from memory, not what I could see. To add to the difficulty, the instructor insisted on turning the radio on full volume. Not only did this mean I couldn’t hear the many, many cones I was driving over, it also meant that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t work out where the car was going.
I was so bad, the instructor cut my session short…
It was a pretty surreal experience, and luckily I was in the safety of a qualified instructor on private roads around Rockingham. If this was on public roads, with real alcohol influence, it could be your own or someone else’s life cut short.
Thankfully, in the last 50 years, deaths caused by drink driving have decreased hugely. However, in 2014 there were still 240 people killed, so there is still work to do. Taking people on these safety courses such as we did, will hopefully make people realise the power of alcohol and continue to add to the social stigmatisation of drink driving.
One thing that was mentioned many times on the course, as well as from THINK! – a government campaign on road safety – is that there is a problem with people who think they can have one or two drinks before they drive, and men are the main offenders. A second bottle can double your chances of a fatal collision. Even one drink can make you feel overconfident and reduces judgement, and you can still get nicked for not being in full control of a vehicle.
At school, we had the road safety department from the local fire brigade come in, who warned us about texting and driving, showing a graphic video in the processes. I think an innovative approach to this type of education would be to get young people in the driving seat and be distracted. It has certainly opened up my eyes to the how seriously it can affect your concentration on your surroundings.