Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Treatment vs Jail: Portugal’s Success

January 5, 2011

drugs problem addicted arresting addiction illegal jail treatment counseling Portugal flag government addicts abuse drug-related court crime problem public health drug-using criminals ignition interlock device Cleared2Drive relapsing

The United States has been fighting the war on drugs for decades now and there seems to be no end in sight which bring to mind the old proverb about the definition of insanity – “Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.’  Well I think it is time we start doing things differently and here is a good example of where we should start.

Big Risk, Big Reward

Ten years ago, Portugal had a big drug problem. 100,000 people, or about 1% of the population, were addicted to drugs. Portugal found itself in the never-ending cycle of arresting drug criminals, prosecuting them, and then after their sentence was complete finding them back on the streets again. It’s one of the main problems countries face when trying to end drug addiction and the crimes that so often are associated with it.

In 2000, Portugal passed a law that decriminalized the use of all illegal drugs. Drugs are still illegal in Portugal, but instead of throwing someone in possession of drugs to jail, it sends them to treatment or counseling. Portugal wrote it into law that anyone caught with illegal drugs instead of being charged with a criminal offense will go directly to a “Dissuasion Committee” for counseling and further treatment if necessary.

It’s not a new concept, but it is one that is difficult to carry out. How does a government take the first step and say that citizens aren’t going to get in trouble if they are caught with illegal drugs? Fears in Portugal were that everyone would go out and try drugs, and that the country would become full of addicts who were getting away with their drug abuse. But that hasn’t happened. In the last 10 years, Portugal has seen drug-related court cases drop 66%, the number of drug abusers has remained the same, and the number of people receiving treatment rose 20%. Most importantly, some of the country’s worst neighborhoods, once plagued with drug addicts and crime, have become safe.

Opponents

Some argue that policies like these are too soft on drug addicts, and without pressure and the threat of jail some people will never change, and for some people that is true. But only in countries that become lax when it comes to carrying out the law do they see an increase in drug users, but in countries like Portugal who have followed through with the treatment part of the plan, they have seen success. It works because they have changed the drug problem from a law enforcement issue to a public health issue which can be more openly managed.

Throwing a drug addict in jail does little good. We can expect 48% of substance abusing criminals to get caught using drugs again. However, if we can get these people the help they need to live a life without drugs, we can change their lives for good and we would encourage these countries to implement a mandatory ignition interlock device like Cleared2Drive program, which can prevent drugged or impaired driving as they too have proven very successful in keeping people from relapsing.

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.



Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Recommends Increased Usage of Ignition Interlock Systems

November 17, 2010

Cleared2Drive alcohol-related crashes alcohol-impaired driving motor vehicle crashes traffic-related deaths CDC’s research and program Center for Disease Control CDC blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ignition interlocks programs Task Force on Community Preventive Services FBIImpaired Driving

Every day, 32 people in the United States die, in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 45 minutes.1 The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.2 But there are effective measures that can help prevent injuries and deaths from alcohol-impaired driving.

How big is the problem?

  • In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.1
  • Of the 1,347 traffic fatalities among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2008, about one out of every six (16%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver.1
  • Of the 216 child passengers ages 14 and younger who died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2008, about half (99) were riding in the vehicle with the with the alcohol-impaired driver.1
  • In 2008, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.3 That’s less than one percent of the 159 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.4
  • Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. These other drugs are often used in combination with alcohol.5

What are CDC’s research and program activities in this area?

Ignition interlock programs recommended
Ignition interlocks are installed in vehicles to prevent operation by anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above a specified safe level (usually 0.02% – 0.04%). CDC reviewed the effectiveness of ignition interlocks programs to reduce alcohol-impaired driving recidivism and alcohol-related crashes.  The review, conducted on behalf of the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, drew on findings from a 2004 review conducted by Willis, Lybrand and Bellamy (Willis 2004). It concluded that ignition interlocks are associated with a median 70% reduction in re-arrest rates for alcohol-impaired driving. Based on strong evidence of the effectiveness of interlocks in reducing re-arrest rates, the Task Force recommended that ignition interlock programs be implemented. They also noted that the public health benefits of the intervention are currently limited by the small proportion of offenders who install interlocks in their vehicles. More widespread and sustained use of interlocks among this population could have a substantial impact on alcohol-related crashes.

  • Related Articles:
    Guide to Community Preventive Services. Reducing alcohol-impaired driving: ignition interlocks. [cited 2009 Nov 6]. Available at URL: www.thecommunityguide.org/mvoi/AID/ignitioninterlocks.htmlExternal Web Site Icon

    Willis C, Lybrand S, Bellamy N. Alcohol ignition interlock programmes for reducing drink driving recidivism. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2004, Issue 3.

References

  1. Dept of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Alcohol-Impaired Driving. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2009 [cited 2009 Nov 3]. Available at URL: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811155.PDF
  2. Blincoe L, Seay A, Zaloshnja E, Miller T, Romano E, Luchter S, et al. The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2000. Washington (DC): Dept of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); 2002. Available at URL: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/DOT/NHTSA/Communication & Consumer Information/Articles/Associated Files/EconomicImpact2000.pdf Adobe PDF fileExternal Web Site Icon
  3. Department of Justice (US), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Crime in the United States 2008: Uniform Crime Reports. Washington (DC): FBI; 2009 [cited 2009 Nov 5]. Available at URL: http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2008/data/table_29.htmlExternal Web Site Icon
  4. Quinlan KP, Brewer RD, Siegel P, Sleet DA, Mokdad AH, Shults RA, Flowers N. Alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults, 1993-2002. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005;28(4:346-350.
  5. Jones RK, Shinar D, Walsh JM. State of knowledge of drug-impaired driving. Dept of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); 2003. Report DOT HS 809 642.

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

Bravo to Dr. Peter Mercer, President of Ramapo College!

November 11, 2010
Cleared2Drive Dr. Peter Philip Mercer, President of Ramapo College

Dr. Peter P. Mercer President, Ramapo College

Peter Mercer, president of New Jersey’s Ramapo College, has banned caffeinated alcoholic beverages on campus after a rash of hospitalizations among students consuming them, the Associated Press reported Oct. 19.

One brand of the beverages, Four Loko, is gaining popularity among high school and college students due to its low cost, high alcohol content, and fruity, easy-to-drink flavors. A 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko contains as much alcohol as four beers.

“If you only got $2 and you need to get drunk, this is what you get,” said Robert Black, a customer at a liquor store in Atlantic City.

The Rampano College ban went into effect Oct. 1. Mercer is hoping other colleges and universities will follow his lead. “There’s no redeeming social purpose to be served by having the beverage,” he said.

He is also backing a bill introduced by NJ Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini to prohibit the sale of caffeinated alcohol products throughout the state. Although no other state has gone that route, a number are considering measures to curb access. The marketing practices of companies that produce the beverages are also under scrutiny at the federal level.

“These products have higher levels of alcohol content in them, higher levels of caffeine in them,” said National Alcohol Beverage Control Association spokesperson Steven Schmidt. “There’s a lot of concern about whether combining these two is a good idea.”

Bravo to Central Washington University!

November 10, 2010

Cleared2Drive Central Washington UniversityCentral Washington University Bans Alcohol Energy Drinks from Campus

The nine Central Washington University students who were hospitalized last month after an off-campus party had been drinking the caffeinated malt liquor “Four Loko”. According to a press release  from the University, the blood alcohol levels of hospitalized students ranged from .123 to .35. The University has now banned alcohol energy drinks from their campus.

Let’s hope that more universities and colleges follow suit!

College Students Who Use Energy Drinks More Than Twice as Likely to Initiate Nonmedical Use of Prescription Stimulants and Analgesics in Subsequent Year

November 8, 2010

Cleared2Drive college student studyingMore than one-third (36.5%) of third-year college students reported that they consumed energy drinks in 2006, according to data from the College Life Study, an ongoing longitudinal study of a cohort of college students recruited from one large, public, mid-Atlantic university.

Energy drink use was significantly related to higher levels of past and concurrent alcohol and drug use (data not shown). In addition, energy drink users were significantly more likely to subsequently initiate the nonmedical use of prescription stimulants and analgesics.

Nearly one-fifth (18.8%) of energy drink users who reported no prescription stimulant use in their second year of college subsequently started using prescription stimulants nonmedically the following year, compared to only 8.2% of energy drink nonusers. Similar results were found for the initiation of the nonmedical use of prescription analgesics (8.5% vs. 4.0%). Additionally, energy drink use predicted subsequent nonmedical use of prescription stimulants and analgesics, even after controlling for demographics, sensation seeking, caffeine consumption, and prior use of the drug of interest. However, no such association was found for subsequent use of other drugs (i.e., tobacco, marijuana, hallucinogens, cocaine, ecstasy, or prescription tranquilizers).

According to the authors, “one possible explanation is that energy drinks, like prescription drugs, might be regarded by some students as safer, more normative, or more socially acceptable than using illicit ‘street’ drugs…” (p. 79).  Lets hope that “explanation” gets rejected quick, fast and in a hurry!

Another School Bus Driver Charged with Drunken Driving

November 4, 2010

Dinah Lynn Patterson McGlothlin drunk school bus driver

By my calculation,  63-year-old Knox County school bus driver, Dinah Lynn Patterson McGlothlin, charged Tuesday morning with drunken driving is the latest in a long string of school bus drivers charged with impaired driving already for this school year.  We have documented at least nine (9) incidents already and we are only in the third month of the school year!

Dinah Lynn Patterson McGlothlin was charged after a crash at a traffic light where a box truck was stopped, said Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk.

Officers charged McGlothlin with drunken driving and reckless driving. DeBusk said McGlothlin submitted to a field sobriety test and then was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center for a blood test.

McGlothlin was driving bus 360 at the time of the 6:26 a.m. crash. She was en route to begin picking up preschool children for Cedar Bluff Elementary School. She also transports special education children for Hardin Valley Academy, DeBusk said.

Witnesses told police the bus, which has a capacity of about 20 students, had driven up on the curb of the road and nearly struck another vehicle at least twice before the impact.

The bus slammed into a food-delivery box truck stopped at the end of the ramp from Interstate 40 East to Cedar Bluff Road, authorities said. No one was injured in the crash, DeBusk said. Both vehicles were driven from the scene. The box truck was driven by Steven Hodges, 40, of Sevierville, DeBusk said. Hodges was driving for Five Star Foods in Alcoa.

DeBusk said there was no evidence of alcohol on the bus. “She had some items in her pockets, but we’re not sure if that’s what led to her condition,” he said.  DeBusk said it appears the driver was impaired by pills and alcohol.

Are you as scared for our kids as I am?

If knowledge and experience doesn’t stop drunk driving what will?

October 14, 2010

For months now, nearly every single day, I am reading another story about a  police officer being arrested for drunk or impaired driving and sometimes, like in the story below, while on duty!   I am sure you all heard about and saw the video of the Colorado State Trooper being arrested just a few months ago when citizens called 911 on him for driving erratically.  And, now we have . . .

Detective Joel Vodak, A Sauk County Sheriff’s Department detective, who has been with the department for 15 years, was arrested by state trooper Monday morning for driving drunk on the job.  According to Chip Meister, the Sheriff’s Deparmetn Chief Deputy, Vodak was on duty when his unmarked squad car rear-ended a vehicle stopped on Eighth Street waiting to turn left onto Ash Street in Baraboo around 8 a.m. Monday.

Because of Vodak’s “demeanor and the odor of intoxicants on his breath.” Meister said the Sheriff’s Department called in the State Patrol to investigate Vodak’s driving status.  According to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department, a state trooper arrested Vodak for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, his first offense, and later released him to a “responsible party”.

If our police officers aren’t comprehending the consequences of driving impaired, then how in the world do we expect our teenagers to understand the consequences?

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

April 15, 2009

When I read that April was Alcohol Awareness Month, my first thought was, “Do we still need an entire month dedicated to the dangers associated with alcohol?” then immediately my next thought was “YES, WE DO!” And not just an average ole yes, but an emphatic YES! Actually, I think a better question is, “Given that society has known about the dangers of alcohol for what, 100 years or so now (wasn’t that the driving force behind prohibition?), why is it still necessary to have a whole month dedicated to dangers of alcohol – especially the combination of alcohol and driving?”

On my last entry, I blogged about how if anyone should have gotten the message about the dangers of driving impaired a coroner certainly should have. Unfortunately, there was at least one coroner in Indiana that didn’t quite get that message and my question was if HE hasn’t gotten the message, is there any hope for the rest of society. My answer to that is, “I have serious, and I do mean serious, doubts.”

Case in point:
More than 25 years ago, when I took my son to sign him up for kindergarten, I was told I needed to first sign up him for Traffic Safety School. Traffic Safety School consisted of children riding big wheels through a maze set up around the playground while instructors (mostly police officers) told the students about different dangers along the way and how to stay safe. When one of the dangers they mentioned was drunk driving, I thought to myself, “Aren’t we starting just a tad bit young here?” Twenty-five years ago we were just starting to hear the message “driving impaired kills” and fortunately a there were a quite a few who listened. Unfortunately, we are discovering everyday there are just as many who haven’t.

Now as a grandmother who everyday receives numerous Google alerts that coroners, police officers, firemen and paramedics who see firsthand the deadly consequences of impaired driving are they themselves being arrested for driving under the influence, I am thinking, “Are we starting early enough?” and “ Is there any real hope we will ever eradicate this problem?” Because quite honestly, even after more than a decade of being bombarded with a blizzard of information there is just too many who have missed the point behind the memos, bulletins, signs, billboards, bodies alongside the road, and even the autopsies.

So, my question now is, “What can be done that hasn’t already been done to get this message to finally sink in?