Around 60 blind drivers, along with partially-sighted people, had the chance to get behind the wheel and drive at speed Thursday on a former Formula One racetrack near Madrid, Spain.
In what was the first rally of its kind in Spain, blind and partially-sighted people got the chance to take a spin on the racetrack.
According to The Local, the rally was organized by ONCE, a Spanish charity for the blind, in conjunction with the car manufacturing company Seat and the Spanish Royal Automobile Club.
Blind drivers speed round racetrack in Spain http://t.co/uXrYtBLVhb pic.twitter.com/2R9bxKElY6
— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) July 16, 2015
While this was the first rally of its kind for blind drivers in Spain, similar events have been held elsewhere in the world, including events using cars developed by Google in the United States.
However, while it was fun for the blind drivers, a ONCE spokesman was quick to state that they are not telling the blind they are going to start driving again.
“What we are doing is trying to integrate them as much as possible in society, to help them feel independent.”
Approximately 60 blind drivers got a chance to do two laps each around the circuit in special cars equipped with emergency automatic braking and speed-control systems. France24 reports drivers also had professional co-pilots warning them of curves and telling them where to steer the vehicles.
— ONCE (@ONCE_oficial) July 16, 2015
One of the blind drivers was Jorge Macauda, 53, who works for ONCE. Macauda is totally blind, having gradually lost his sight as an adult. He said it was a terrific experience.
“We got up to 92 kilometers (57 miles) per hour.”
According to Macauda, you really have to concentrate. The blind driver said that the co-pilot talks one through the drive, alerting a driver when there’s a sharp bend ahead. Macauda said that he really enjoyed the experience.
“I cried. I hadn’t driven a car for 30 years.”
— The Local Spain (@TheLocalSpain) July 17, 2015
Held on the Jarama racing circuit in San Sebastián de los Reyes close to Madrid, it is only to be hoped that similar events will be planned for blind drivers in the future.
In news which may help blind drivers, the Inquisitr reports that Google continues to test its controversial self-driving cars, despite accident reports. According to the search engine giant, none of the accidents were caused by the self-driving cars themselves.
[Image: Aerial view of Jarama racing circuit CC-BY-SA Carlos Delgado]