People who were visually impaired got a chance to get behind the wheel and speed around a former Formula One racetrack in Spain. This was the first such rally for the blind and partially sighted people, said the organizers.
"It was a terrific experience. We got up to 92 kilometers (57 miles) per hour," said Jorge Macauda, 53, after taking a spin, accompanied by an instructor, on the Jarama racetrack near Madrid. Macauda is totally blind having gradually lost his sight as an adult.
AdvertisementThe rally was organized by ONCE, a big and influential Spanish charity for the blind, along with car maker Seat and the Spanish Royal Automobile Club.
They said it was the first such activity for the blind held in Spain. Similar drives have been held elsewhere, including ones in the United States with cars developed by Google.
"We are not telling the blind that they are going to start driving again," an ONCE spokesman said. "What we are doing is trying to integrate them as much as possible in society, to help them feel independent."
About 60 blind drivers did two laps each of the circuit in cars equipped with emergency automatic braking and speed-control systems, with professional copilots telling them when to steer.
"You really have to concentrate. The copilot talks you through it and tells you when there's a sharp bend," told Macauda, who works for ONCE. "I cried. I hadn't driven a car for 30 years."