ONE FOR THE ROAD?
Darren Turner assists Thames Valley Police with Christmas drink driving campaign
Darren Turner took on a big challenge yesterday when he got involved in the new Christmas drink drive campaign for Thames Valley Police. The Le Mans winning driver went head-to-head with a few beers and then jumped into the Base Performance Simulator to see what effect the alcohol had on his driving performance.
Carefully monitored by Roads Policing Inspector Colin Clark, Darren completed five laps of Monaco sober, five laps when he was just approaching the legal limit and then five laps after failing the roadside breathalyser test. The experiment was to demonstrate that even if you are a professional driver you are not fit to drive when you are over the limit. The findings were clear; the Police are absolutely right!
"My first run was great," said Darren. "I was able to fully focus on what I was doing and completed five consistently quick laps of Monaco. On the second run everything felt normal but I touched the Armco three times and also had a big spin. Once I was out of the simulator I could see on the data that I was braking later than normal as my reaction times had slowed. Most worrying though was that I went faster through the high-speed sections which shows I was feeling a little too brave."
The mood turned serious on Darren's final 'drunk' run when over the five laps he had seven race-ending 'offs' and was an average of eight seconds off the pace.
"That run was really scary," he explained afterwards. "As a racing driver you are always thinking one step ahead and I think I was about three steps behind. I assumed my performance would drop off a bit but not that much. I couldn't even put a lap together and I actually found it quite frightening. Usually if you make a mistake you deal with it and re-focus but I found that if I made one mistake it overloaded my brain. I also got easily distracted by people talking in the room and that was strange as normally I wouldn't even notice that."
"I'm surprised at the deterioration," he continued. "I would be terrified to drive a real car when I feel like this. I wouldn't be happy even going 10mph!"
"If Darren had been on the road every little mistake could have been a nasty accident and he wasn't even having to deal with normal road hazards as he was all alone on a race track," said Inspector Clark. "The simulator provides a protected environment to demonstrate the effects of alcohol and it has been very interesting to show that you can be the best driver in the world but you are never going to win when you take on alcohol."
-source: darren turner