Categories: News

A race for the blind organized on the Ring of the Rhine circuit

Every year since 2006, the association “The blind and their funny machines” has organized very special driving courses.

An organized car race where the runners would be blind? At first glance, the idea may seem absurd, even difficult to achieve. And yet, the association “The blind and their strange machines” offers driving courses for blind people. They are all made on the Ring of the Rhine circuitand has been since 2006.

The objective behind this initiative is to enable the blind or visually impaired to rediscover or discover the pleasure of driving. This year, this event was organized again. The perfect opportunity for five trainees to benefit from driving experience on a car racing circuit!

An opportunity for the blind or visually impaired to discover the sensations of driving

But then, how can blind or visually impaired people drive? Through the use of their other senses, particularly hearing as well as feeling the vibrations of the car and engine. Of course, they weren’t left alone to drive a car. Otherwise, the risk of an accident would have been very great. For these courses, they were accompanied by a monitorpresent only to guide them, but not to lead in their place.

For the occasion, France 3 regions questioned one of these monitors. “I’ve been doing this for six years now. I learned the words for. It’s a language that has evolved a lot, and which now is the best we can do in terms of accompanied driving. Especially when you pick up speed: you have to be understood quickly, with the right and precise words to exclude any danger”explains one of them. A sacred expertisewhich also cannot be learned overnight. “We train first on small cars, at moderate speed and then we move on to big cylinders. The more the person progresses, the more the confidence also progresses”added this same monitor.

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A new highway code

The indications given by the instructors are nothing like those you might occasionally give as a co-pilot. To get blind or visually impaired people to drive, one of the association’s founders, Luc Costermans, created a very specific highway code ! “In my youth I did motorsport and when I lost my sight, I lost those feelings too. I was very unhappy about it. Based on my rally notes, I then decided to create an effective system, a sort of language dedicated to driving for the visually impaired.”he explains.

The objective is that the blind or visually impaired “can quickly have the right gestures and in the end that they can renew one day. Right 10, Axis, Left 5 … it’s coded language for you but very efficient for us”, he adds. An innovation that can thus greatly benefit people whose sight prevents them from driving. And which can allow them to discover the pleasure of driving and gain self-confidence!

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