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SLEEP IT OFF

Ford made a suit that mimics the effects of driving with a hangover—and the results aren’t pretty

Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

If you were one of those that contributed to the millions of pints of Guinness consumed on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, take that ice pack off your head and read this.

Ford, as part of its “Driving Skills For Life” initiative to encourage young drivers to continue learning after they get their licenses, created a suit meant to mimic the effects of a bad hangover. We all know driving drunk is terrible and illegal; the evidence is damning: drunk drivers kill around 10,000 people in the US each year. But most of us probably assume that once we’ve had some time to sleep it off, we’re fine to drive the next morning (or afternoon).

The reality, though, is you are likely not at your most alert when hungover. Ford’s trying to get that point across.

The company invited me to put on its hangover suit, and try some basic driving maneuvers. We went to an empty lot in the deepest suburbia of New Jersey, far away from anyone who knew me or could see how ridiculous I looked, or how poorly I was driving. Thankfully, we recorded the whole thing on video.

The course the Ford team set out for me was pretty simple: a line of cones followed by a circle of cones. I was supposed to slalom the company-provided SUV through the cones, drive around the circle, repeat the slalom, and then back into a parking spot. They didn’t let me try the course before they put the suit on me, but I doubt it would’ve made much of a difference—the suit made driving a challenge.

The suit mimics—albeit a little dramatically—what it feels like to be hungover. There were weighted cuffs for my arms and legs, and a heavy vest for my chest, to make me sluggish. The suit pumped pulsing sounds into my ears that sort’ve sounded like blood rushing through my head, and I was forced to wear a pair of goggles that blurred my vision. To be honest, the last time I personally experienced a hangover as severe as one the suit mimicked was in college, but Ford said the point is to show that any of these effects can make you drive worse. And indeed they did.

I drove the course a few times, and I don’t think I avoided hitting a cone on any of the runs. One time when reversing into the final parking spot, I knocked over a whole row of cones. When trying to navigate through the cone slaloms, I couldn’t properly judge the distance between cones at all. My head hurt. I couldn’t react quick enough. My back was sore. I just wanted to curl up on the couch with a Gatorade and not drive anymore.

While Ford’s hangover suit isn’t quite as impressive as the exo-suit the company let me try on, it definitely opened my eyes to the potential dangers of getting behind the wheel after a long night at the bar—or at least, the perils of wearing this particular suit while driving.

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