Goggle-eyed test of balance proves a sobering experience

It felt like someone had stuck a fishbowl over my head.

The surroundings were blurry and I was having double-visions.

The job was to weave through a course of little cones but more than a few ended up kicked over.

"I'm fine," I said.

Down two more cones went.

But this was no fishbowl. Instead, it was a pair of "beer goggles", intended to give the wearer a simulation of the effect of alcohol at different levels.

There were also drug impaired goggles.

Roadsafe Taranaki ran its Fatal Vision course at the New Plymouth Probation Service Centre last week. It is aimed at educating offenders about the consequences of alcohol and drug impairment.

The task was simple - participants had to weave in and out of the neatly lined tiny cones, throw a ball into a bin, take two trays with four cups balanced on each to a table, lock and unlock a bicycle chain, step over a few squeaky toys and then walk heel-and-toe.

Before starting on the little obstacle course, each participant had to place their left hand on a large bright cone.

With the beer goggles on, it was easy to miss the cone by a few centimetres. Others missed it by a fair mile, swiping thin air instead.

By the end of the course, most of the cones were down and walking on a straight line had proved impossible for some.

Some ploughed through the row of cones, while one carried each task out to near perfection.

Roadsafe Taranaki road safety co-ordinator Marion Webby said the orange cone was symbolic of a driver sitting at an intersection waiting to move out.

When the person missed the cone, it could have been them pulling out in front of a tanker.

The cones represented road users and by judging the group's performance, it was a massacre.

Surely this was enough to scare the daylights out of drink-drivers.

Which was exactly the programme's aim and the Department of Corrections hope the course will reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.

Its targeted participants are young people who already have driving convictions.

Ms Webby had a very sombre warning for these people: "Drinking and driving, one mistake, and you can end up with someone in a coffin."

Taranaki Daily News