Archive for the ‘Fatal Car Crashes’ Category

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.

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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.

MADD Wants ‘DADSS’ to Stop Drunk Driving

December 3, 2010

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) people killed by drunk drivers Federal Highway Reauthorization Bill convicted of drunk driving ignition interlock device installed vehicles lock the ignition for drivers with a blood alcohol level legal limit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety DADSS technology blood alcohol concentration BAC Cleared2Drive's Impairment Detection Technology Alcohol Beverage Institute ABI Sarah Longwell organization National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA impaired driving Good2Go

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) can reasonably take the credit for halving the number of people killed by drunk driving each year from 21,000 in 1980 to about 11,000 in 2009. To appreciate how big an accomplishment that is, it’s helpful to remember that when MADD was founded in 1980, “it was legal to get behind the wheel and drink a beer in most states,” and drunk drivers “rarely received more than a fine,” according to The Dallas Morning News.

MADD celebrated its 30th anniversary in a big way: it launched an effort that will — it hopes — virtually eliminate drunk driving. First, it wants Congress to amend the Federal Highway Reauthorization Bill to require that people convicted of drunk driving must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. This is already law in 12 states. Second, MADD wants Congress to authorize $60 million over five years to pay for the development of a device that would lock the ignition for drivers with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety — yes, that spells DADSS – might save 8,000 lives every year, once the technology is perfected. While their device is expected to take several years to finish, and might use infrared light sensors or scan driver’s fingers to assess the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology is available now.

The Alcohol Beverage Institute (ABI) objects to its plan to put DADSS in all cars. “They are no longer a mainstream organization,” said the Institute’s managing director, Sarah Longwell. “Many of their policies are extremely fringe at this point.”  While it might seem ludicrous to paint an organization founded by a mother whose 13-year-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver as “extremely fringe,” the Institute does sound a bit desperate as well they should: “When they talk about alcohol sensing technologies, ultimately what it does, it eliminates people’s ability to drink anything before driving,” Longwell said. “It’s not about drunk driving anymore, it’s about trying to demonize any drinking prior to driving.”

We at Cleared2Drive believe ABI’s point is very valid.  It is one thing to have a glass of wine with dinner and it quite another to sit at a bar for hours on end and get blitzed.  What MADD and DADSS are both missing is the distinction between drinking and being impaired because it comes at different points for everyone.  What DADSS is trying to create is a one size fits all and we all know that just doesn’t cut it.  What they should be considering is how person gets impaired – from 1 drink or 10 drinks, or by swallowing a hand full of prescription pills, or drinking 2 bottles of NyQuil, or by smoking meth – is what we should be really concerned about.  We need technology installed in vehicle that can make the critical determination of what is truly important . . . IS THE VEHICLE OPERATOR IMPAIRED?

Cleared2Drive understands that MADD said it isn’t trying to outlaw drinking — just drunk driving. Which is not a bad thing but given that more than 11,000 people a year still die in crashes related to drunk driving, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just released results from its latest study showing that more than 1/3 of all drivers killed have drugs in their system, we need to move away from trying to detect “drunk driving” and focus on the broader picture of “impaired driving” as that is the key to saving lives.



Drug use found in 33% of drivers killed

December 2, 2010

drug-test results National District Attorneys Association illegal substances cocaine Don Egdorf Houston Police Department DWI task force abuse prescription drugs David Strickland NHTSA Good2GoAccording to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) just released report, 1/3 of all drug tests on drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents came back positive for drugs ranging anywhere from hallucinogens to prescription painkillers last year.

The report, the agency’s first analysis of drug use in traffic crashes, showed a 5-percentage-point increase in the number of tested drivers found to have drugs in their systems since 2005. The increase coincided with more drivers being tested for drugs, the report shows.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the numbers are “alarmingly high” and called for more states to address the problem of driving and drug use. Seventeen states have some form of such laws, according to NHTSA: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.  Obviously more need them.

Although much research has been done on alcohol’s effects on driving, little has been done on the impact of drugs on driving, researchers say. The NHTSA analysis doesn’t address whether the drugs were at levels that would impair driving because right now there isn’t a standardized test. What they need is a system like Cleared2Drive, one that detects impairment not arbitrary levels in a person’s blood.

Jim Lavine, the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said drug-test results don’t always pinpoint when the person took the drug: It could have been days or weeks ago.  Again, another reason to focus solely on impairment detection.

The lack of research presents a problem for lawmakers, adds Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association. “With respect to illegal substances, the answer seems fairly easy: ‘You can’t drive with cocaine on board,’ ” he says. “The tougher question becomes, ‘What do you do with prescription drugs?’ ”

Don Egdorf of the Houston Police Department’s DWI task force says many people abuse prescription drugs. “If you have tooth pain, they give you Vicodin. You might develop a tolerance,” he said. “You might end up taking two instead of one.”

David Strickland of NHTSA recommends better state records of crashes involving prescription drugs.  While record keeping is important, shouldn’t our main focus be on prevention?

Cleared2Drive anyone?

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Shows 17% of Fatal Car Crashes due to Drowsy Driving

January 2, 2010

study AAA Foundation Traffic Safety fatal car crashes drowsy driving Idaho State Police impaired driving dangerous on the road recovery falling asleep crashing your vehicle Cleared2Drive Good2GoA new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows close to 17% of all fatal car crashes are the result of drowsy driving.  Idaho State Police Captain Lonnie Richardson said drowsy driving is as dangerous as any other distracted or impaired driving.

“Drowsy drivers are very dangerous on the road,” said Richardson. “It’s bad enough people driving down the road changing the stereo, or gawking out the window looking at the scenery, which causes the vehicle to drift off. Under those circumstances the driver can usually recover.”

But Richardson said the recovery from falling asleep is not so easy. “In a drowsy situation, someone generally falls asleep,” said Richardson. “And when they wake up they are naturally frightened. The natural reaction is to jerk right or left. When that happens, the laws of gravity and the laws of momentum are going to dictate that vehicle is generally going to roll over on them.”

Richardson said drivers should stop when they start to feel drowsy. Even a short nap can help make sure you arrive safely.  “If you find yourself at all tired, pull over, find a rest area, find a nice location where you can pull over and take a 30 minute nap,” said Richardson. “Just a 30 minute nap will refresh you enough to keep you from probably crashing your vehicle.”

The survey also showed a quarter of the respondents admit to driving during the previous month while being so tired they had difficulty keeping their eyes open.  Just as it detects impairment from drugs or alcohol, Cleared2Drive also detects impairment from sleep deprivation or extreme fatigue.  As all equally dangerous.