Amherst drivers test skills while impaired

Test was part of many activities at National Police Week

Published on May 17, 2017

Sonia Minocha wore impairment googles that mimicked driving while impaired by alcohol Wednesday afternoon at the Amherst Centre Mall. RCMP Const. Travise Dow watches her progress while co-worker Emily Rossong snaps a few photos.

©Dave Mathieson - Amherst News

AMHERST, N.S. – Few decisions can end up more devastating than the decision to drink and drive.

Emily Rossong takes a turn.
Dave Mathieson - Amherst News

“We’re hoping to educate people while they’re still young before the choices they make have a negative impact on lives,” said Paula Pettigrew, a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

It’s an experience that everyone should have for sure so they know the difference between driving impaired and driving sober and how dangerous it can be to drive while impaired.

Emily Rossong

MADD was one of many community partners participating in National Police Week activities Wednesday at the Amherst Centre Mall.

MADD had a pedal car course set up where people could test their driving skills while wearing impairment googles.

Sonia Minocha of the Amherst Recreation Department took one of the pedal cars for a spin wearing goggles that mimicked prescription opiate impairment.

With the goggles, Minocha veered wildly through the course in a time o 2:04, but blasted through the course in 39 seconds without the goggles.

These kids had fun pretending they were in jail. They are from the Amherst Preschool.
Dave Mathieson - Dave Mathieson

“The test was extremely tough,” said Minocha. “Don’t drive under the influence.”

Their teacher asked them to pretend they were sad being in jail but it didn't work very well. The preschoolers are (from left) Kingston Chipman, Selena Card, Thalie Gould, Jack Atkinson and Teaghan Lair.

Her recreation co-worker, Emily Rossong, had a similar message after driving through the course in 1:25 with goggles that mimicked driving at night with a few drinks of alcohol, and then 38 seconds without the goggles.

“It’s an experience that everyone should have for sure so they know the difference between driving impaired and driving sober and how dangerous it can be to drive while impaired,” said Rossong.

 “It’s important for people to remember it’s not just vision that is affected when you put your googles on, it is all your senses that are affected,” said Dow.

Besides goggles mimicking opiates and various amounts of alcohol under different circumstances, there were also goggles mimicking driving under the influence of LSD and cannabis.

“We do have a saliva tester to test for cannabis and we’re doing a lot of talks on cannabis and the eventual changes to the laws which are currently being written.”

Dow hopes the goggles will make people think twice before getting behind the wheel while impaired.

“Although numbers fluctuate there’s still a fair number of people being arrested for being caught for impaired driving,” said Dow. “We’re catching the ones we’re catching and, unfortunately, there’s more out there we’re not catching.”

Sonia Minocha makes her way through the course.
Dave Mathieson - Amherst News

Events at the mall included a canine unit demonstration and a taser demonstration, and ran from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.