Archive for the ‘Crash’ Category

Marines Corps Working to Curb Excessive Drinking

January 27, 2011
barracks cocktail liquor Afghanistan alcohol heavy drinking alcohol-dependent Marines into treatment Corps alcohol abuse dependence alcoholism armed forces Pentagon’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents arrested driving under the influence injuries killed binge drinking beer Camp Pendleton’s Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center substance abuse treatment alcohol poisoning

23 year Lance Cpl. Sean Conley drank himself to death

 

The booze was flowing Halloween night in the Camp Pendleton barracks, but the party ended early for one young Marine overcome by potent cocktail “bombs” made of liquor and caffeinated energy drinks. Lance Cpl. Sean Conley, a 23-year-old helicopter mechanic, had been helped to his room by friends after he started feeling ill, his father said. But the Marine was later found on a bench on the barracks veranda, unconscious.  Results of toxicology tests revealed that Conley drank himself to death that night.

His family back in Green, Ohio, had been worried about the Marine’s impending deployment to Afghanistan. “The fighting going on, that was the biggest concern for us — that he would get his foot blown off,” his father Steven Conley said.  “We prayed for him a lot,” but when it came to his safety and welfare, “we never thought of alcohol,” Conley said.

Despite efforts in recent years to redefine a long-standing culture of heavy drinking and to force alcohol-dependent Marines into treatment, the Corps continues to struggle with alcohol abuse in its ranks. In the first half of 2010 and most of the three previous years, the Marine Corps had the highest rate of new cases of alcohol dependence or chronic alcoholism among all branches of the armed forces, according to a report by the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Last year, nine Marines died in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents, including seven who were at the wheel and two who were passengers, the Marine Corps reported.  One of the latest accidents this year claimed Lance Cpl. Andrew T. Tjhung, a 19-year-old Camp Pendleton Marine riding passenger with another Marine who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The last two fiscal years saw the highest numbers of alcohol-related injuries among Marines since 2005 — 114 incidents in 2010 and 118 in 2009, according to the Naval Safety Center. The good news is that the number of Marines killed or totally disabled in alcohol-related vehicular accidents peaked in 2007 at 22 and declined into the low teens in recent years, even as the size of the Corps swelled by 22,000 Marines.

Conley was a member of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469. The air wing’s commanding general, Maj. Gen. Thomas Conant said through a spokesman that he views every alcohol-related incident as preventable.  The air wing uses a mentoring program and incentives to help units reduce alcohol-related incidents, as well as disciplinary actions against those who break the rules.

Even as binge drinking has become more prevalent among civilian youth, the Corps has tried to temper its long history of alcohol-soaked revelry. The days when commanders kept beer on ice for Marines to imbibe after long marches are over.  John Veneziano, a retired Marine and director of Camp Pendleton’s Consolidated Substance Abuse Counseling Center, said the staff saw about 2,100 clients last year for alcohol and substance abuse screenings, including about 36 a week who entered treatment.  That is a couple hundred more than their annual average before the war era began in 2001.

When the Corps flew the Conley family to San Diego County this winter, the helicopter mechanic’s buddies wanted to toast his passing with beers at a restaurant. Steven Conley raised his brew in the memory of his son. But he shook his head in disgust when he heard about the party that was to follow.“My son just died from alcohol poisoning, and they’re having a party afterwards to go out and get drunk?” he said. “That’s when it hit me. … They don’t even see it.”

And he is SO right.  They don’t see it which is why family members should insist that a Cleared2Drive unit be installed in their vehicle.

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30 Year Veteran Metro Boston Transit Authority Bus Drunk Fired After He Crashed Bus While Driving Drunk

January 25, 2011
30 year veteran bus driver Metro Boston Transit Authority MBTA drunk drunken driving injured drug and alcohol policy operating under the influence of alcohol police blood alcohol level legal limit drinking bottle vodka drove drunk substance abuse problem Cleared2Drive system sober

Metro Boston Transit Authority Bus Driver McCarthy Drove his Bus Drunk

A 30year veteran bus driver for the Metro Boston Transit Authority (MBTA) who was accused of being drunk after he hit a car with his bus has been fired.  After he allegedly drove his bus into a car stopped at a traffic light in Somerville, John McCarthy, 61, was charged with drunken driving Friday , Transit Police said. The only passenger on the bus and the driver of the car were not injured.

In a letter dated Jan. 23, MBTA General Manager Richard Davey wrote that McCarthy was in violation of the authority’s drug and alcohol policy and had been immediately discharged from his position.  McCarthy was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.  He was released on personal recognizance at his arraignment Monday.

Police said that after the crash, McCarthy could not stand up straight, had trouble speaking and smelled of alcohol which is understandable given that court documents revealed he had a blood alcohol concentration of .155 percent — almost twice the Massachusetts legal limit of .08 percent.  Even though a bottle of vodka was found in his jacket pocket, McCarthy told police he had not been drinking.  “There was nothing in his employee record to suggest a problem,” MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.

Does anyone believe that this was the first time he drove the bus drunk?  If you do, I have some ocean front property in Oklahoma I would like to sell you.  When are the transit authorities going to wake up and smell the alcohol (literally)?  More than 10% of all Americans have a substance abuse problem.  Do they really think that bus drivers, taxi cab drivers, semi drivers, are all exempt?  For less than the price of a set of tires, they could install a Cleared2Drive system on each bus and be assured that ALL their drivers are driving sober ALL the time.

Marijuana use up in teens – Alcohol use down

December 21, 2010

alcohol students binge drinking underage drinking laws Mothers Against Drunk Drive MADD survey positive influence substance abuse Cleared2Drive system prevent impaired driving under the influence DUI DWI arrest college scholarshipsAccording to the 2010 “Monitoring the Future” survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) the numbers are rising on marijuana use among young teens. Sixteen percent of surveyed eighth grade students in the U.S. reported using marijuana in 2010, compared to just over 14 percent last year. It appears that high school students are smoking more marijuana than cigarettes.

What accounts for the increase? Principal investigator Dr. Lloyd D. Johnston, research professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research believes many teens no longer see marijuana as dangerous. “The most visible influence in today’s culture that would explain such a change in perceived risk among teens is the extended national discussion about the desirability of medical marijuana use combined with the more recent discussion of legalizing it in California,” Johnston says.

And, marijuana use isn’t the only thing that’s up.  Increasingly more teens are also using Ecstasy. “I think it has been so long since the main Ecstasy epidemic, which peaked in 1991, that a lot of today’s teens never heard about some of the adverse consequences that were widely reported back then,” Johnston explains. He says NIDA has been warning for years that use of the drug could go back up, as young people become less aware of the dangers.

There is some good news in the survey, however. Alcohol use among teens is down substantially. Johnston points out that in 1999, 31% of 12th-grade students reported binge drinking. In 2010, that number decreased to 23%. Johnston thinks the decline is due in part to retailers doing a better job of cooperating with underage drinking laws.  He also believes that the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) ad campaigns, and the increase in minimum driving age has helped curb teen access to and interest in alcohol.

Some 56,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders participated in this latest NIDA survey.

The declining numbers in alcohol abuse attest to the fact that parents and society can have a positive influence on curbing substance abuse among teens. Johnston urges parents to be proactive in communicating to kids the dangers of drug use. “Be sure that you indicate that you would be disappointed if they used drugs,” Johnston advises. “That’s a major deterrent to kids becoming involved with drugs.”  For parents that are concerned that their child might be susceptible to using either drugs or alcohol and then attempt to drive, they can install a Cleared2Drive system in their vehicle as Cleared2Drive does more than just prevent impaired driving, it also works as monitor for parents.  If their child can start their car one day but not the next – maybe after a night out with friends – then it could because they are under the influence.  Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology also protects against a child getting a DUI or DWI arrest or into a car accident which can ruin their chances for college scholarships.

Wyoming is Unfortunately Losing their Battle Against Drunk Driving

December 19, 2010

intoxicated MADD Cleared2Drive dangers drunk driving drugged driving impaired driving Good2Gofatalities involving alcoholWyoming’s crash data suggests that drinking and driving contributes to more deaths and injuries on the road in the Cowboy State than safety advocates or any of the rest of us would like.  Of the 116 fatal crashes that happened in Wyoming in 2009, 55 people died because alcohol was a factor.  Of 3,361 injury crashes, 697 people were hurt because of alcohol.

Between 2005 and 2007, alcohol contributed to an average of 33% of the state’s highway fatalities, according to Wyoming’s 2009 Report on Traffic Crashes, released earlier this month. In 2008, that went up to 50%, and in 2009 it was 41%. While an odd year can really skew the numbers in a sparsely populated state like Wyoming, the five-year average for percentage of fatalities involving alcohol is 38.  According to Dee West Peterson, State Coordinator for Highway Safety at the Wyoming Department of Transportation which puts out the above report, “We’re not winning this battle”.

Too often, people think they can make it home safely when they are intoxicated, said Debbie Taylor, a MADD volunteer in Casper.”I do believe it is a cultural change that needs to take place,” she said and all of us at Cleared2Drive couldn’t agree more.  As we have stated many times, we have been educating people of the dangers of drunk driving for close to 30 years now and unfortunately many have not gotten the message.  It is going to take much more than education and the possibility of some sort of punishment to eradicate drunk driving or drugged driving or  impaired driving or whatever you want to call it in Wyoming or any other state.

Drug-related crashes up in Florida

December 17, 2010

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration NHTSA illegal drugs pharmaceuticals tested positive illicit drug criminal offense fatalities New Year's Day holiday drive impaired Cleared2Drive Good2GoIs anyone surprised that the number of drug-related traffic crashes is rising in Florida given that they are the nation’s prescription drug capital?  Yes, it is nice that as the holiday season gets under way the state is ratcheting up its efforts against drunk and drugged driving, but let’s be honest here folks, Florida’s impaired driving problem isn’t going to go away just because we ring in a new year.

Over the holidays the Florida Highway Patrol says it is launching a new crackdown on impaired drivers (glad to see they are now starting to focus on impaired driving as opposed to just drunk driving) as the numbers show there’s a real need for it.  The latest statistics show drug-related crashes and injuries are up more than 10% in Florida, according to Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp. “Drug-related crashes increased by nearly 11% and drug-related injuries by more than 19%. These are numbers that we cannot ignore.” When you include drunk driving, the problem is even worse. Alcohol and drugs were factors in 44% of the more than 2,500 fatal crashes last year.

According to Bruce Grant, Director of Florida’s Office of Drug Control, driving at night on weekends is even riskier.  He sights a national survey by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing that a lot of drivers are using illegal drugs or pharmaceuticals on weekend nights.  “One in eight nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for an illicit drug. That number rises to one out of every six when you include not only illicit drugs but also pharmaceuticals.”

Grant says 17 other states make it a criminal offense to drive while using an illegal drug and he is urging Florida lawmakers to adopt a similar law.  “I think it’s time for Florida to seriously consider adopting a version of this so that we stop the increase that we see in drugged driving and prevent these crashes from becoming fatalities.” In my humble opinion, Florida should have been leading the charge on this one!

Over the New Year’s Day holiday in 2009, Florida experienced a record high fatality rate.  Police say DUI/DWI crashes killed 34 people over the four-day period.  Now with another New Year’s holiday fast approaching, Kottkamp is urging Floridians not to drive impaired this holiday season. “I would encourage all Floridians to be responsible and make good decisions, decisions that can make all live a better life.”

Yes, it good to “encourage” people to be responsible and not drive impaired, but when they can’t do it on their own, take comfort knowing Cleared2Drive can do it for them.

NTSB wants to make Hard-Core Drunk Drivers a High PriorityT

December 15, 2010

Laura Dean-Mooney national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving MADD ignition interlocks impaired driving breathalyzer Sarah Longwell American Beverage Institute moderate social drinking DUI offenders sobriety checkpoints Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology impaired drivingUSA Today reports The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants states to make drivers caught with high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) or repeat drunk driving offenses a high priority.  Excuse me for asking, but why is the NTSB waiting until December 2009 to make this a priority?

NTSB reports that 70% of the drunk-driving accidents last year were caused by these  so-called “hard-core” drunk drivers. The term, “hard-core drunk drivers” is defined as individuals who have a second DUI offense within 10 years of their first, or who are found to have at least 0.15 percent alcohol content in their blood.

Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety says, “Hard-core drunk drivers are, in many ways, resistant to the countermeasures we’ve applied since the early ’80s”. Back in the early 1980s when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded, drunk driving accounted for 50% of road fatalities, where in 2009 it accounted for 32%, when 10,839 people were killed.  In my estimation given the amount of education we have done in the US over the past 30 years, this number is still extremely high.

“You’re seeing harsher and harsher statutes being enacted in various states across the country,” said Joanne Michaels, who directs the National Traffic Law Center. She said that district attorneys are charging drunken drivers in fatal crashes as severely as possible which don’t you think they should have been doing all along?  Didn’t most of us Americans come to the conclusion years ago that drunk driving is no accident and is 100% preventable?

Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD, said, “We believe that anyone who drives drunk is a potential threat to kill or injure people” and wants federal lawmakers to require that all first-time DUI offenders get ignition interlocks. Okay, this is good, but until we start approaching this with a pro-active solution, impaired driving is not going to stop.  MADD is also is asking that Congress allocate $60 million to create and test improved ignition interlock devices to be put in all vehicles which is only going to work if you develop the right technology.  Asking people to put a tricked out breathalyzer, or a breathalyzer called something else in a lame attempt to disguise it, in their vehicle is just not going to fly.  The breathalyzer has a stigma that is just NOT going to go away – see December 14th blog.

Sarah Longwell of The American Beverage Institute said that MADD’s plans go far beyond just hard-core drunk drivers. “Rather than focusing on the hard-core population, there has been this move to target moderate social drinking,” she said. She favored graduated sanctions for offenders and mobile patrols for DUI offenders instead of sobriety checkpoints.

Honestly, until we as a society utilize technology designed specifically to recognize impairment like Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology, drunk or impaired driving is not going away and we will continue to bury our loved ones.

How to Prevent A Drowsy Driving Accident or Fatality

November 29, 2010

AAA Foundation for Traffic Society findings show that more than 40% of drivers have fallen asleep while on the road.

drowsy driving accident investigation road trip UHP fatality AAA fatigued driving accidents Cleared2Drive Good2GoAlmost half of the traffic fatalities on Utah County highways this year have been the result of drowsy driving.

“We’re mystified and really quite frustrated,” said Lt. Al Christianson with the Utah Highway Patrol, adding that last year, the county had only seven fatalities all year. “This year we’ve already had 23, and the year’s not over yet.”

Three of the six fatigued driving accidents that resulted in fatalities were on Interstate 15, two were on U.S. 6 and one was on U.S. 89. In each case, Christianson said, the drivers didn’t think they were quite as tired as they were. He pointed to a triple fatality in September, when a family’s van rolled on I-15 near Santaquin. They were returning to Provo after a long trip.  “They’re within 20 miles of their destination when their driver falls asleep, and they die,” he said.

What’s even scarier is the number of near-misses. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Society released findings showing that more than 40 percent of drivers have fallen asleep while on the road. That’s two out of every five drivers, or about 164,000 of the approximately 400,000 drivers on I-15 in Utah County on a daily basis.

The frightening aspect of driving while tired is that anyone could fall victim to it and not realize it at the time. While in the past there had been no device or technology to measure exhaustion, there is a new technology now available called the Cleared2Drive System that measures impairment even from fatigue or sleep deprivation.   Many people don’t realize how tired they are when they get into their car, or they overestimate their ability to remain alert but the Cleared2Drive System can and will prevent them from being able to start their vehicle.

But if the statistics tell drivers anything, it’s that they need to evaluate before a road trip if they are awake enough to make it and be willing to pull over if they’re not; UHP has even put road signs along I-15 encouraging drowsy drivers to exit.  Springville resident Jack Angus said when he starts running over the rumble strips on the freeway he’s too tired, and he’ll pull off at the next exit and catch a quick nap or switch drivers if someone else is in the car.  “I would never take a chance,” he said. “That’s worse than driving drunk or something.”

It’s at least on equal footing; a person who has been awake for 24 hours has the equivalent mental state and reaction time as a person with a blood alcohol content of .10.  Police officers are trained now to watch for drowsy drivers and are no longer accepting “I’m just tired” as a reason for unsafe driving.

Police officers can cite people for drowsy driving, although it is difficult to prove. They look for poor driving patterns like swerving or not staying in their lanes, but most often they realize a driver is too tired only during an accident investigation. People should avoid traveling too late at night or allowing all the passengers in their car to fall asleep instead of relying on temporary fixes.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

November 25, 2010

From all of us here at Cleared2Drive, we hope you have wonderful Thanksgiving!

Cleared2Drive how to stop impaired driving how to stop drunk driving how to stop drowsy driving

Given that this is the most traveled weekend in the entire year, please be extra careful not to drive while tired or after you have celebrated with family and friends.

Ignition Interlock Summit Helps States in the Fight Against Drunk Driving

November 16, 2010

Last year, 10,839 people died because of alcohol-related car crashes.

Although this number declined 7.4 percent from 2008 to 2009, none of these deaths ever should have happened. And even a single death due to drunk driving is one too many.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Centers for Disease Control met with members of the Governors Highway Safety Association for a National Ignition Interlock Summit. This was a full-day work session to help state safety professionals figure out how to get a handle on drunk driving.

Impaired driving is involved in 32 percent of all crashes on American roads. But an ignition interlock system that blocks a convicted drunk driver’s vehicle from starting when that driver is impaired can prevent many of those crashes and save lives.

In 2006, MADD launched a Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, calling for increased use of ignition interlocks for impaired driving offenders. The Department of Transportation has been a strong supporter of this campaign, and in the last four years, interlock use has more than doubled from approximately 100,000 in 2006 to 212,000 in 2010.

But that covers only a small percentage of the 1.4 million drunk drivers arrested last year in the US.

Today, all states except Alabama and South Dakota have laws that authorize ignition interlock use for at least some offenders. Yet we know that one-third of those 1.4 million arrests involve repeat offenders, and we know that many fatal drunk driving crashes also involve repeat offenders.

 

MADD DOT NHTSA CDC Ignition interlock system impaired driving alcohol-related car crashes US Department of Transportation

Alcohol Related Traffic Fatalities per State

That’s why 13 states have passed mandatory ignition interlock laws for all drunk drivers–including first offenders.

And that’s why DOT is providing technical assistance and support to help states move toward increasing their interlock use and strengthening their laws and interlock programs.

As I said in September, when I announced the drop in drunk driving deaths, our roads are the safest they’ve ever been. But, to make America’s roads even safer, we are committed to continuing our vigorous fight against drunk driving. Ignition interlock systems are a critical part of that fight, and I urge states to make the best use of this valuable tool.

Reprinted from the US Department of Transportation

Doctors Say Alcoholic Energy Drinks Dangerous

November 9, 2010

Cleared2Drive four locoSome doctors say drinks that combining alcohol with caffeine should be banned because they’re dangerous, ABC News reported Oct. 20.

Marketed in large, colorful cans under names like Four Loko, Joose, and Torque, the drinks are popular among college students. The 23.5-ounce canned drinks can contain 12 percent alcohol and 156 milligrams of caffeine, and have encountered increasing criticism. Attorneys general in more than one state are concerned that they’re being marketed to minors, a New Jersey college banned them, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is deciding whether or not the drinks are legal.

Dr. Robert McNamara, who directs the emergency medicine department at Temple University, recently encountered his first-ever case of a healthy 19-year-old whose heart attack seemed to be linked to consuming alcoholic energy drinks. “This is a dangerous product from what we’ve seen,” McNamara said, who said other doctors had told him about similar cases. “It doesn’t have to be chronic use. I think it could happen to somebody on a first time use.”

“I’m mad as hell,” said Doctor Mary Claire O’Brien of Wake Forest University. “These drinks are not safe.”  O’Brien, who is a professor of emergency medicine and public health, recently completed a study that showed that consuming alcohol with caffeine was more harmful than drinking alcohol alone. Those who consumed both were at least two times as likely — compared to those drinking alcohol without caffeine — to be hurt, need medical attention, take sexual advantage of another, or accept a ride with someone who was inebriated.

“They can’t tell that they’re drunk,” O’Brien explained. “What this behavior gets is a wide awake drunk.”

The FDA has said that, under regulations governing food additives, caffeine can’t be mixed with alcohol. It is currently evaluating whether the drinks should remain legal, but no deadline has been set for a decision.  “FDA intends to evaluate the information submitted by the manufacturers and other available scientific evidence as soon as possible in order to determine whether caffeine can be safely and lawfully added to alcoholic beverages,” said Michael Herndon, a spokesman for the FDA.

Phusion Projects, which manufactures Four Loko, told ABC News, “No one is more upset than we are when our products are abused or used unlawfully. But Four Loko is neither the sole contributor to alcohol abuse, nor will additional restrictions on it solve the problem.”