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Ford enlists gamers

European gamers have been enlisted by the Ford Fund in an effort to make people more aware of the different dangers they can be exposed to when driving.

Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of the company, and GlobalGiving, its international grant-making partner, have been working with independent gamers from Ford’s Team Fordzilla esports team. The racers feature in a new video to promote the fund’s Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) programme, where they test out three special suits designed to replicate the effects of drinking and sleepiness, to safely find out just how badly their driving is affected.

Using visual impairment, weights and sound effects the suits imitate how a person would be impacted when drunk, hungover or tired. After driving a “sober” lap, each expert simulation racer used one of the suits to drive the same lap while impaired, with noticeable consequences.

The momentary blindness of the sleep suit resulted in numerous crashes, the double vision of the drunk suit led to dangerously inaccurate driving, while the hangover suit caused erratic driving that ended in a spectacular crash that would likely have been fatal if in real-life.

Ford Fund has used these suits for a number of years to tangibly highlight the effects of different impairments and will continue to use them to help educate younger drivers as part of its DSFL programme. In Europe, road collisions remain one of the highest external causes of death amongst 15–25-year-olds 1 due in part to the distractions of music, passengers or phones, and also due to an increased exposure to drink and drugs that the increased social activity at this age often brings.

Participants at DSFL events in Europe this year will again get the chance to experience the suits for themselves alongside practical and theoretical training by professional instructors.

What is DSFL?

Driving Skills for Life is a programme to promote safer driving amongst young people that was launched by Ford Fund, the philanthropic arm of the company, in the USA in 2003.

Launched in South Africa in 2010, DSFL is Ford’s award-winning and free driver training programme, intently developed to raise the standard of safety among South African drivers while rewarding them with skills that the standard driving test does not take into consideration.

Areas covered include the key risk factors of speed and space management, distraction, vehicle handling, hazard recognition and the negative impacts of driving under the influence.

The Driving Skills For Life programme continues to provide a nurturing platform to not only make young drivers aware of the potential dangers and bad habits, but also to ensure they understand the modern safety systems that come standard in Ford vehicles. By exposing them to these safety systems and highlighting their effectiveness, in a safe environment, more and more young drivers are choosing safety as a top priority when buying a new vehicle.

Team Fordzilla

Launched at gamescom in 2019, Team Fordzilla is Ford’s first esports team, building on its real-world racing heritage by competing at the highest level on the virtual racing stage.

Since its inception, an important aspect of Team Fordzilla has been to explore synergies between the real and virtual worlds with projects like the P1 race car; the first car to be designed in collaboration between designers from an automaker and the gaming community. This new video is the latest example of continuing exploration.

Team Fordzilla has a unique approach to gaming and is proud to build a community around its key values of accessibility, inclusivity, competitiveness and… fun!

Ford simulation suits

Ford engineers and designers use suits to simulate being heavily pregnant and elderly to help ensure the vehicles they create are usable and comfortable for all. The sleepsuit, hangover suit and drink driving suit were inspired by those, but have been developed with the Meyer-Henschel Institute solely for educational purposes.

Hangover Suit: Fatigue, dizziness, a throbbing head and difficulty concentrating can make driving while hungover as risky as drink driving, even if the driver is not over the legal alcohol limit. This suit uses weights, a special vest, cap and goggles and headphones to mimic the symptoms

Drink Driving Suit: Around a quarter of all road fatalities in Europe are alcohol-related, yet more than a third of young people admit to taking a ride from a driver who was under the influence. The suit makes simple tasks, such as walking in a straight line, much more difficult

Sleep Suit: Fatigue is a major factor in 1 in 5 road crashes. Remaining awake for periods in excess of 18 hours can even impair abilities to a degree that is comparable to exceeding the drink-drive limit in some countries. Weights and unique goggles that replicate microsleeps help replicate the effects of fatigue

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