Words: Jane Headon
Pictures: Peter Walsh
THERE are plenty of people who happily drive after a smoke, there are others who claim that a bit of whizz or charlie makes them drive better. Either way these people get behind the wheel confident not only that they can handle the vehicle but also that there is absolutely no risk to their licence. As we found out there is more than a slight risk of losing your licence if you drive with any kind of dope in your system even though there are no 'Don't drop one and drive' campaigns. Mixmag had been wanting to test drugs and driving for some time. It wasn't easy to set up. We had to find someone who owned a piece of private land. We also had to find a qualified and practising driving instructor with a dual control car. We asked a few and they laughed in our faces. But one rainy Sunday afternoon with three willing guinea pigs and 25 traffic cones in the boot of our dual control we were ready to go.
The Testing Ground
A SMALL strip of land was divided by a grass patch up the middle. This served as two 300 foot roads. The first road acted as a car runway for the rivers to get their speed up. On the second 'road' we created two chicanes of traffic cones. The 18' cones were placed three feet apart creating several extremely sharp left and right hand turns following immediately on from one another. At the far end of the course we used the remaining cones to build a difficult left and right reverse. The car used was a Maestro Diesel 2000. In the passenger seat was one Mr Bruce. Mr Bruce has been a qualified driving instructor for 46 years and he agreed to the experiment on two conditions: 1) That his anonymity would be protected and 2) That he remained unaware what, if any, substances were being consumed. We found three volunteer drivers. Each has a licence and several years driving experience. Each drove the course straight a few times to get the feel for it. Then they consumed cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy and attempted the course again. I sat in the back of the car to get the feel of how safely they drove. Mr Bruce observed them, mildly criticised their driving to test emotional responses and suggested various improvements to test their ability to pick up on information. He then commented on each of their abilities.