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Simulator shows up the effects of alcohol
Simulator shows up the effects of alcohol

A unique test in a high-tech driving simulator has highlighted the dramatic impact that alcohol can have on a motorist.

Rhianna King, a reporter for The West Australian, drove the $1 million simulator before and after drinking enough wine to put her over legal blood-alcohol levels.

And, according to instructor Paul Starling, the deterioration in her driving skills would have resulted in several serious - perhaps fatal - accidents.

After just three standard drinks, King went from "a confident and careful driver" to one who "struggled to maintain her position and speed on the road, forgot basic driving skills and froze when she encountered the unexpected".

The simulator, brought to WA by Wangara driver training company SimTech Training, is based on similar flight simulators. It is designed to replicate in detail the look, feel and response a driver would expect to encounter in various situations.

It includes a fully functioning car - with original gearbox, clutch, steering and brake systems - mounted on a motion platform and surrounded by a detailed video graphics system.

King first drove the course sober and, according to Mr Starling, demonstrated she was a competent driver.

She then had three standard glasses of red wine (100ml each) over 30 minutes and, 20 minutes later, recorded a blood alcohol level over 0.05.

King then had another test and, within seconds, caused a major accident.

She failed to check her rear-vision mirror as she entered the freeway and collided with another vehicle, sending her spinning into the railings.

"It was a major collision at speed," Mr Starling said. "It really shook her up. For the rest of the freeway section, she couldn't position the car in the centre of her lane. She kept drifting to the right.

"And there was a major fluctuation in her speeds, jumping everywhere between 80km/h and 120km/h."

The simulator is available for bookings by the general public.