Archive for the ‘State troopers’ 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.

Congratulations Mississippi Highway Patrol!

December 5, 2010

Mississippi Highway Patrol State Troopers DUI arrests law enforcement agencies drunk driving related deaths Public safety commissioner holidays reducing alcohol-related accidents Cleared2Drive Good2Go ignition interlock device impaired driving drunk driving under the influence arrested Good news for the state of Mississippi. In the past several years, DUI arrests have sky-rocketed which has resulted in the lowest number of drunk driving related deaths in decades.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol attributes the surge in DUI- arrests to law enforcement agencies all over the state becoming more involved.

Public safety commissioner Steve Simpson says the  MHP “blitz periods” during the holidays aimed at reducing alcohol-related accidents have been extremely successful.

Cleared2Drive salutes all of the members of the Mississippi Highway Patrol!

Drugged Driving Increasing

December 1, 2010

With prescription drug abuse a growing problem in the state and nation, it’s no surprise police are seeing a result on roadways. “We’re getting pounded by painkillers,” said Cpl. Chad Blankinchip, an instructor at the Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center in Selma. “Marijuana is still the most common because people think it’s undetectable, but painkillers are right up there with it.”

However, the upside in the battle against drugged drivers is Alabama is one of 46 states that participate in the nationally recognized Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE, program. State troopers as well as some police and sheriff’s departments around the state use the trained experts.

DRE experts are training to conduct a series of tests on the suspect permitting them to serve as an expert witness when discussing the driver’s impairment in court.

Blankinchip said after a traffic stop is made, a field sobriety test is given followed by a breath test. If the level doesn’t measure for alcohol, a further evaluation is performed for drug impairment, including pulse checks, checks of vital signs and pupil dilation. The trained officer also looks for injection sites on the body of the suspect and takes statements. Finally, the suspect goes to the hospital for toxicity screening. It can take an hour or longer to charge an individual with drug-related DUI.  “That’s a drawback and a concern because there’s really nothing that can be done to speed up the process right now,” Blankinchip said.

Rogersville, Alabama Police Chief Terry Holden said he’s seeing more cases of drug DUIs.  “We see as many DUI drug cases as we do alcohol,” Holden said. “Five years ago, you just didn’t have that much.”

Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett said the only test an officer can give for drugs is field sobriety, but there are definite differences between someone impaired from alcohol and drugs. “The biggest thing is their speech,” Garrett said. “They talk with a thick tongue, and speech is impaired worse than with alcohol usually.” He said his last few DUI cases have been for controlled substances. “The problem is you can’t walk up and smell it like you can marijuana or alcohol,” he said. “Officers have to pay close attention to the drivers. A sobriety test can only go so far. One of the biggest arguments I hear from suspects of drug DUI is, ‘I have a prescription for it.’ ”

While Garrett said people are smarter about (refraining from) drinking and driving, “they’re not using their brains at all when it comes to popping pills and getting behind the wheel of a car.”

Tony Faulkner, community marketing representative for Bradford Health Services, routinely deals with individuals referred from the courts after DUIs. There’s been a definite increase in those cases with the biggest growth in prescription pills. “I always say that most addicts are dyslexic when it comes to taking pills,” Faulkner said. “Instead of taking one every four to six hours, they take four to six pills every hour.”

Blankinchip said as long a prescription pills are so readily available, “the problem will just continue to grow.”  And, for loved ones of those that continue to abuse drugs, the only safe guard is a Cleared2Drive system in every vehicle.