As students milled Tech Walkway last Thursday, they had the opportunity to learn about campus safety from organizations such as Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD), the Georgia State Police, Emory Police, City of Atlanta PD, Midtown Blue and Mounted (the equestrian police force). In addition to public safety officials, some corporations also attended the event. One representative, the Ford Motor Company, did more than just talk to the student body to enforce their message.
Ford representatives brought the Drunk Driving Suit to their booth, which travels across the country in order to raise awareness of the effects of alcohol. The suit is comprised of many bands and weights to restrict movement. Earmuffs impair hearing to delay reaction time, goggles create the illusion of tunnel vision, arm and leg bands slow movement and wrist weights create an uneven distribution of balance.
“We want students to see different ways we keep campus safe,” said Officer Loran Crabtree, the social media coordinator at GTPD. “[One way is to] experience being under the influence in a safe and controlled environment.” Georgia Tech students who volunteered to try on the suit were then asked to complete a mock sobriety test, designed to present the impairments that come with being intoxicated.
According to Ford representative Judith Fouts, students find the suits impact their movements substantially more than expected after seeing the simple armbands and goggles on the table.
“They are surprised at how hard it is to walk in straight lines,” said Fouts. “It really slows you down.” The suit was developed in 2003 and now is a part of the Ford Driving Skills for Life program which travels across the country. Recently, the suit made an appearance at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, where visitors could get behind the wheel on a closed course while wearing the suit.
Ford also hands out pamphlets with statistics: one reads, “on average, 28 people die each day as a result of drunk driving crashes.”
The Ford Driving Skills for Life program often travels to college campuses during tailgate season, when more alumni are on campus and parties are common.
“Sometimes people tend to over-celebrate with alcohol during the football season,” said Fouts. “We are a large ACC school, and with college football comes drinking,” agreed Loran when asked what he hoped students would take away from the Ford Drunk Suit experience. “It’s eye-catching. DUI is a large killer and we want to raise awareness.”
Officer Loran recommends students download the LiveSafe app to help stay safe on campus.