The simulator of the CBR. Own picture.
Do you want to test what it’s like to drive under the influence of drugs without being a danger to yourself or others? The CBR and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management have introduced two new educational measures for drug use in traffic. Last weekend they were in Eindhoven, among others, where passers-by could test what it is like to drive under the influence of cannabis, ecstasy, magic mushrooms and alcohol. In this way they want to warn people about the dangers of driving under the influence. Subway’s Emma went by and tested it out.
The number of arrests of drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs continues to rise. The number of traffic accidents involving dangerous driving behavior also remains high. In one third of the fatal crashes, the speed is too high or not adapted to the circumstances. Next to alcohol, cannabis is the most commonly used drug behind the wheel. “Many people do not know that driving under the influence of cannabis is punishable,” says Nanda Troost, spokesperson for the CBR. “Its use is tolerated, but just like alcohol it is punishable behind the wheel.”
I take a seat in a small wrecked car. The windows are broken and there are dents in all corners of the car. I then get VR goggles and am taken into a story. My character is ready to go to a party and I drive over. Upon entering I get the choice between alcohol, cannabis, ecstasy and magic mushrooms. I choose cannabis because it is a commonly used drug in the Netherlands. Then I get back in the car and ‘drive’ home, but under the influence. “With cannabis, your reaction time is very slow. Cannabis users have told us that you see a green haze,” says the simulator’s supervisor.
I press the accelerator further and further, because it seems as if my car was not moving forward. But this was because my reaction time was very slow, because of the drugs. Suddenly I saw two cyclists in front of me and I pressed the brakes very hard, but to no avail. Besides the fatal collision of two cyclists, the driving went pretty well for me. Cannabis is therefore certainly dangerous in traffic. A lady after me had a similar experience. “I found it very scary. I didn’t feel safe at all.”
When using the drug ecstasy in traffic, you do not realize how fast you are actually driving. You will experience the colors red and green very brightly. Traffic lights are therefore not very useful, but they are necessary. Another curious simulator tester opted for magic mushrooms. I could watch with the driver via a screen. The image here was very dark and every now and then you saw something strange passing by. When the steering wheel turned to the right, the car turned to the left. As a result, the man soon crashed.
Suddenly a dinosaur walked on the path and if you looked to the side you saw a Santa Claus sitting in the car with you. “I thought it was very strange, but fun,” he says when he gets out of the car. “It just didn’t seem realistic. You can compare it to a computer game. I’m not sure it’s really going to have a big impact on the outcome of the course. A drug addict needs a little more help.”
The educational measure
The drugs and traffic course aims to make traffic offenders aware of dangerous driving behaviour, so that they can make better choices in the future.
Educational measure of the CBR
If you cross the line and get caught in traffic from April 1, there is a good chance that you will have to take the ‘drugs and traffic’ course. It takes three half days and in addition to the fine you also pay 1099 euros for the course. The course was created to make traffic offenders who were under the influence of drugs aware of their dangerous behavior when they were arrested. “The course comes on top of the fine and the possible denial of the driver’s license,” says Troost. “It is not only dangerous to drive a car under the influence, but also a scooter or a bicycle. Many young people are smart enough not to get into the car, but they then choose to ride a shared scooter, for example.”
According to Troost, you don’t often see these students again. “They are shocked and they know what they did was wrong.” Drug investigations have increased by thirty percent in the past year compared to 2021. In addition, the police issued 38 percent more fines to drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Every year, eighty people die in traffic driving under the influence of drugs.
Driving under the influence of drugs
The simulator has already been introduced for the educational measure alcohol. “The result was very good there. We know it scares them and that leaves an impression. That is why we now also use the simulator to provide information about the new courses. People can experience what it’s like in such a ‘dry’ way,” says Troost. A number of driving instructors said that they think it is important that their students receive this information. It’s a fun, educational and impressive way to see just how dangerous drunk driving can be. The simulator travels throughout the country and will in this way introduce people to the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
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What’s it like to drive under the influence of drugs? ‘I don’t feel safe at all’