Portable roadside tests for marijuana

New Roadside Tests For Drugs

New roadside tests for drugs are being evaluated by police departments around the country and are showing promise as an effective tool for determining whether or not a driver is under the influence of drugs, especially the use of marijuana.

The problem with testing for the presence of marijuana, up to this point, is that blood or urinalysis testing checked for specific metabolites in the system to determine whether or not marijuana has been used. The drawback to these tests is that they could only determine marijuana use within the past few weeks, not that the user was currently under the influence of marijuana. Another issue was that blood and urinalysis tests can’t be performed at the scene of a traffic stop. The new roadside tests have apparently solved those problems.

The new roadside tests use an oral swab to collect a saliva sample that is placed into a portable analyzer. Test results are obtained in minutes and can detect up to seven different drugs. Results show that the person has recently used the drug and is currently under its influence.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Analytic Toxicology, researchers compared two different oral fluid analyzers. The results of the portable analyzer tests were followed up with standard drug detection tests to check for accuracy. The results showed the Dräger Drug Test 5000 to be more sensitive, especially for the detection of marijuana. The study’s authors stated that the oral fluid tests were more sensitive than the standard urinalysis test for detecting the presence of drugs in the system.

With more states legalizing marijuana and reports by police of greater numbers of stoned and drugged drivers, the new drug detection systems should be a welcome aid in in the prosecution of those drivers.

Do as I say, not as I do

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Driving Culture In US

Do as I say, not as I do, seems to be the driving force among US drivers according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Traffic Safety Culture Index released this week. The survey of 2,705 US licensed drivers age 16 and older shows that most believe that certain driver behaviors are dangerous and a threat to other drivers but a large number admit to engaging in those same risky behaviors themselves.

Car crashes affect most Americans in one way or another. Among the survey’s respondents:

  • One in ten have been seriously injured in a crash and almost one in five have been involved in a serious crash.
  • Almost one in three had a friend or relative that was seriously injured or killed in a crash.

When asked about certain traffic issues, survey respondents who felt they were a somewhat or bigger problem than three years ago were as follows:

  • Aggressive driving – 61.3%
  • Distracted driving – 85%
  • Drunk and drugged  driving – 41.6 and 45.6 respectively

The do as I say, not as I do factor

When it comes to their personal driving behavior the survey showed:

  • 54.7% said red light running was a serious threat and 72.7% said it is completely unacceptable. However, more than one-third (35.6%) admitted to running a red light within the past 30 days.
  • 45.2% of drivers felt that speeding at or above 10 mph over the posted speed limit in residential zones was a serious threat and 84.4% said it is completely unacceptable. However, almost half (43.5%) admitted that they done it within the past 30 days.
  • 78.6% of drivers felt that texting was a serious threat and 64.6% said it is completely unacceptable. However, more than one-third (36.1%) had read a text or email and more than one-quarter (27.1%) had typed one while driving within the past 30 days.
  • 45% of drivers felt that drowsy driving was a serious threat and 81.3% said it is completely unacceptable. However, almost one-third (29.4%) had done so within the past 30 days.

Cell phone use while driving

Many Americans still don’t realize that, when it comes to cell phone use, the distraction doesn’t come from holding a phone to your ear but from the phone conversation itself. Among survey respondents:

  • 65.7% of drivers felt that use of hand-held cell phones is unacceptable while almost the same amount (65.4%) felt that use of hands-free cell phones is acceptable.
  • 46.4% of drivers felt who use speech based in-vehicle cell phone systems don’t believe that the calls are at all distracting.
  • 89.3% believe that texting while driving should be banned.
  • 67.8% support a ban on hand-held cell phones.
  • 40.2% support a total ban on both hand-held and hands-free cell phone use.

For more information on the survey, read: 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index

Drunk/Drugged Driving: Good News And Bad News

Drunk/Drugged Driving: Good News And Bad News

There’s good news and bad news from a study released recently by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The good news is that drunk driving is down significantly but drugged driving is on the rise.

The National Roadside Survey, a survey conducted five times over the last 40 years, shows that drunk driving is down significantly since the last survey in 2007. The National Roadside Survey is a voluntary roadside survey conducted at points throughout the nation. Drivers are notified by signs leading to the survey site that the survey is completely voluntary and the results will remain anonymous.

According to the NHTSA survey, approximately eight percent of drivers during weekend night time hours were found to have alcohol in their system. Just over one percent of the drivers blew a .08 on the breathalyzer, the level at which drivers are deemed legally drunk in all 50 states. The number of drunk drivers in the survey was down by 30 percent since the last survey conducted in 2007 and 80 percent since the first survey conducted in 1973.

That good news was tempered by the fact that the number of drivers with drugs in their system that could affect their driving increased by almost 23 percent. The number of drivers with marijuana in their system increased by 50 percent.

The survey found that more than 15 percent of drivers in the survey tested positive for illegal drugs, a 25 percent increase over the previous survey. However, drugs that can affect driving aren’t just illegal drugs. Many drivers fail to realize that a number of prescription and over-the-counter medications can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Overall, about 20 percent of drivers tested positive for some type of drug that could affect their driving abilities, up from 16.3 percent in 2007.

NHTSA credited anti-drunk driving campaigns with the lower rate of drunk driving. It seems that new campaigns are in order to reduce the number of drugged drivers on the road.

Read more: NHTSA Releases Two New Studies on Impaired Driving on U.S. Roads

Safer Car

Shopping For A Car? NHTSA Has Helpful App

If you’re shopping for a car, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an app that can help you find the safest car within your budget. The app, called “Safercar” is available for both android and iPhones.

The app lists all vehicle models going back to 1990. It separates those vehicles manufactured between 1990 and 2010 from those manufactured beginning with the 2011 model year and later because the testing standards changed. Beginning with the 2011 model year, the testing standards were updated with new, stricter requirements to earn the top “5 Star” safety rating.

After selecting a particular make and model, the app lists that model’s safety ratings  for both driver and passengers in frontal and side collisions. It also rates the vehicle’s risk of a rollover in a crash.

Safer Car ratings

The app also lists recommended advanced safety technology such as electronic stability control and rearview cameras and whether or not the equipment is standard or an option on that model. You can also use the app to look up recalls for that particular make and model. Shoppers can save a model for comparisons with other models.

Vehicle owners can also create a personal profile and, by putting in a vehicle identification number for their car, request to be notified of any new recalls by email.

Another very helpful feature, especially for expectant parents or grandparents, is the ability to search nearby locations for car seat inspection stations. By putting in your zip code, the app gives contact information – normally a children’s hospital or the local police department – where you can make an appointment to learn how to properly install your new child car seat.

For more information, visit:

Android phones: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=gov.nhtsa.safercar&hl=en

iPhones: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/safercar/id593086230?ls=1&mt=8\

Zero death vehicle models

Nine Car Models Have Zero Deaths

A study, released last week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), looked at the death rate for 2011 model year vehicles sold in the US and the data showed a record nine models with zero deaths.

According to the authors, the chances of dying in a vehicle crash have fallen by more than one-third over the past three years. Significant improvements in design safety, including; structural improvements, additional safety features, and “an evolving mix of vehicle types” contributed to the decline in the risk of death. The authors estimated that, had vehicle designs remained the same since 1985, an additional 7,700 people would have died.

Vehicle structural improvements and safety features have improved tremendously over the past few years. The 2011 models sold through the 2012 calendar year had an overall rate of 28 vehicle deaths per million registered vehicles compared to 48 deaths per million registered 2008 vehicles sold through 2009. According to the IIHS, eight years ago there were no vehicles with a zero death rate and now there are nine.

The surprising thing about the vehicles that had zero deaths were that two-thirds of them were SUVs. This is surprising because SUVs had some of the highest death rates ten years ago due to the fact that their high center of gravity made them prone to roll over in a crash. When they did roll over, their weak roofs generally gave way, crushing the vehicle occupants. Structural changes and the addition of electronic stability control (ESC) led to lower death rates, not only in SUVs but throughout the vehicle fleet. According to the authors, the 2011 rollover death rate of 5 per million registered vehicle years is less than one-quarter of that for the 2004 model year. A registered vehicle year is one vehicle registered for one year.

The nine vehicles with zero death rates are:

Audi A4 4WD

luxury car

midsize

Honda Odyssey

minivan

very large

Kia Sorento 2WD

SUV

midsize

Lexus RX 350 4WD

luxury SUV

midsize

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 4WD

luxury SUV

large

Subaru Legacy 4WD

4-door car

midsize

Toyota Highlander hybrid 4WD

SUV

midsize

Toyota Sequoia 4WD

SUV

large

Volvo XC90 4WD

luxury SUV

midsize

Smaller vehicles, especially the “minis” or “smart cars” fared poorly in the study. The car with the highest death rate was the Kia Rio, a minicar, with 149 driver deaths per million registered vehicle years. The Rio, along with the Nissan Versa sedan, and the Hyundai Accent, were the only three cars with more than 100 deaths per per million registered vehicle years. In small and mini cars, there isn’t enough vehicle structure to cushion and prevent intrusion into the vehicle occupant space.

To see how your 2011 model fared in the study: visit: Driver death rates by make and model