In an effort to reduce the number of alcohol-impaired driving crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a set of recommendations, 19 in total, calling for more stringent laws and enforcement. "Most Americans think that we've solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it's still a national epidemic," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. "On average, every hour one person is killed and 20 more are injured."
The most controversial of the recommendations has to do with the blood-alcohol level (BAC) that consitutes being legally drunk behind the wheel. As of today, all states consider the BAC threshold to be a limit of 0.08, but the NTSB is calling for it to be lowered to 0.05 (the agency points out that over 100 countries on six continents have BAC limits set at 0.05 or lower). The NTSB estimates that nearly 1,000 lives would be saved by the change.
In other recommendations, the NTSB has called for police to use passive alcohol sensors to help better detect alcohol vapor in the ambient environment, and it is suggesting giving authorities the power to immediately suspend or revoke driver's licenses at the time of DWI. It also maintains that states should employ measures to improve interlock compliance. To read the rest, check out the full press release below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
With multiple states legalizing marijuana, government agencies are scrambling to research the effect of the drug on drivers. CNN recently took a look at operating a motor vehicle under the influence of pot by subjecting three users in Washington state to a little driving test with the help of a local sheriff's department. The results are a little surprising, with even casual smokers able to safely operate a car with up to five times the state's new legal limit in their blood stream. At worst, the smokers were actually more cautious on the course than they were before partaking.
Once the levels increased, however, the story changed dramatically, with two participants showing obvious signs of impairment. Heavy user Addy, meanwhile, continued to perform admirably up until the very last stage of the study. You can check out the full video below for yourself, and remember to keep it off the road, kids.Permalink | Email this | Comments
On one side you have Ireland's measures against drunk driving: a maximum allowable blood-alcohol level of .05 percent (the legal limit is .08 in most states in the US), and statistics like the lowered limit and checkpoints having "decreased road deaths by 42 percent in the last four years." On the other side you have councilor Danny Healy-Rae of County Kerry who is worried about some of his elderly constituents being isolated in rural areas: Healy-Rae says that the pub is the only place to socialize in some villages, and without public transport and any way to get home after a few pints, some elder villagers end up staying home every night for fear of losing their licenses.
To address the issue, Healy-Rae has put forth a motion that would allow some Irish to drive after "two or three" drinks - with "some" being limited to certain people in certain out-of-the-way places. He is clear that he doesn't want this thought of as a blanket provision for the entire country, saying "on the roads I'm talking about, you couldn't do any more than 20 or 30 miles per hour and it's not a big deal. I don't see any big issue with it."
The mayor of Kerry does have a big issue with it, questioning how someone can suggest that drinking and driving, by anyone for any reason, is acceptable. Alcohol Action Ireland also takes issue, its chief dousing Healy-Rae's arguments with "Those in rural areas who may be suffering from isolation will not benefit from putting their lives and the lives of the other members of their community at risk by drinking and driving." Healy-Rae's motion was passed in a local council meeting by a vote of five to three, and now he's asking Ireland's Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, to consider it.Permalink | Email this | Comments
In those cases, the charges were either dropped or reduced, but not until the accused had paid bail, had their vehicles impounded and racked up court fees in excess of $1,000.
According to the report, Steed had been a rising star within the UHP - she was even named trooper of the year in 2007. But she was fired in November amidst allegations of wrongdoing, though she is currently appealing her termination. Greg Skordas, Steed's lawyer, said the allegations were overblown, arguing that most of her arrests had stood up in court. Even so, Davis County attorney Troy Rawlings has said he will dismiss any case where Steed was the primary investigator or witness. Three years ago, a Highway Patrol sergeant reviewed 20 of Steed's marijuana-impairment arrests and found that the drivers had no traces of the drugs in their system.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Earlier this month, as part of its conclusions to an investigation into wrong-way driving crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommend ignition interlocks for all those convicted of a DUI. That means every first-time offender couldn't start his car until he had satisfied the breathalyzer attached to his ignition. With the nation's deadliest hours for drunk driving approaching, New Year's Day, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has pointed out the dangers of the holiday and voiced support for the NTSB measure.
The AAA says its own study shows that "nearly eight out of ten Americans support requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, even if it's their first conviction." Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has put the national rate of repeat DUI offenders at 15 percent, but there's a huge variance: in California nearly eight percent of fatal DUI crashes are repeat offenders and DUI recidivism overall was 24 percent in 2007, whereas in New Mexico in 2011 more than 50 percent of fatal DUI crashes are attributed to repeat offenders. Another stat from MADD is that "The average driver drives drunk 87 times before their first arrest."
There are already 17 states that mandate ignition interlock devices for those convicted of DUI, and the NTSB is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to speed up research into manufacturer-installed interlock devices. It will probably be a while, if ever, before the federal government or the rest of the country follows the lead of those 17 states, but the real point is this: We've made it past the Mayan Apocalypse, so enjoy the new world and be careful behind the wheel come NYE.Permalink | Email this | Comments
In May of this year, KDVR, Fox News 31 of Denver, Colorado aired a segment in which it tested the effects of marijuana on drivers. At the time of the story, Colorado lawmakers narrowly voted down a law that would have made it illegal to drive with more than five nanograms per milliliter of the drug in your system. So, to determine the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana, the local Fox affiliate gathered up several volunteers, with ages ranging from early-20's to mid-60's, and asked them to hop into a driving simulator after smoking pot. Once participant was not convinced of the news station's objectivity.
Max Montrose was one of the younger volunteers, and he was skeptical about the study, so he brought a hidden camera with him. Following the experiment, he posted a video to YouTube last week, cutting in clips of the new story with his own footage of the test. In one hidden camera clip, Montrose gets a camera operator to admit that the test isn't really that applicable, as well as other volunteers pointing out that the simulator was designed for the CDL test, designed for large semi trucks. He also contends that another vehicle in the simulator acted erratically and crashed into him in the course of his test.
The whole video seemed very damning on its surface, but KDVR has shot back, providing context to many of the issues raised by Montrose. The station explains that the test was conducted by a third party, and though the test was in a CDL facility, the simulator was set for a four-door SUV, a vehicle that would have been familiar for many drivers. Furthermore, the station interviewed a phlebotomist, who stated that effects are different from person to person, and several volunteers passed the test even though under the influence.
The KDVR response basically states that Montrose may have had biased motives from the start of the study, which is a claim that Montrose makes of the privately owned Fox affiliate. The original news report is not very damning for marijuana users, meanwhile Montrose even admits that he "would never advocate in a million years anyone to drive intoxicated on anything for any reason." So, no real conclusions are drawn in the matter, but just like the phlebotomist said of marijuana, this news story apparently affects each individual differently. See the now-viral video for yourself by scrolling below, and draw your own conclusions.Permalink | Email this | Comments