blood alcohol concentration - BAC, blood alcohol levels - BAL, cannabis, Crashes and Collisions, Drug-Impaired Driving, Drunk Driving, DUI/DWI/OWI/OWAI, DUID, DWAI, FARS, fatalities, Field Sobriety Tests, Legislative Affairs, marajuana, medical marijuana, NHTSA, Road Safety Research, traffic fatalities, Traffic Safety, Victims of DUI

Happy 4/20, Prepare for DUIs

420

Today, April  20th (4/20 or 420), is marjuana’s high holiday for the eight states and the District of Columbia that now allow recreational use of marijuana, and 30+ states that  allow its use for medical purposes.  There is even talk from Democrats about introducing a bill in Washington to remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances. But today, cannabis is still a controlled illegal substance at the Federal level, it is still illegal to transport cannabis products across state lines, still produces effects on driving that can lead to a DUI or DUID arrest, and it still incredibly difficult to standardize for safety and quality controls. Cannabis is the most phyto-chemically complex plant on the planet. It is an impossible task trying to ensure all plants, even of the same cannabis genotype, have all the same chemical profile.

Some might make the comparison between alcohol prohibition and cannabis, both Federal legislative measures prohibiting the production, importation, transportation and sale of related products on a national level. History has shown that lifting alcohol prohibition has not eliminated the abuse – and resulting consequences – that leads to impaired driving. According to the NHTSA, in 2016 there were 10,497 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentration of .08 g/dL, the minimum legal limit for DUI nationwide for adults over 21. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System,  the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes testing positive for marijuana rose 88 percent from 2013 to 2015. A Denver Post  analysis of data and coroner briefings report the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana had risen sharply each year since 2013, more than doubling in that time; state law, however, does not require coroners to test deceased drivers specifically for marijuana use in fatal crashes.

Starting with Oregon in 1973, individual states began to liberalize cannabis laws through decriminalization. In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis, sparking a trend that spread to over 30 states by 2017. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Have roads in these states become more dangerous since the drug’s legalization in its various forms? The Post’s findings include:

  • Marijuana is figuring into more fatal crashes overall. In 2013, drivers tested positive for the drug in about 10 percent of all fatal crashes. By 2016, it was 20 percent.
  • More drivers are testing positive for marijuana and nothing else. Of the drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 who tested positive for cannabinoids, more than 52 percent had no alcohol in their system. By 2016, it had grown to 69 percent.
  • The average age of drivers in deadly crashes in 2015 who tested positive for marijuana was nearly 35, with a quarter of them over 40.
  • In 2016, of the 115 drivers in fatal wrecks who tested positive for marijuana use, 71 were found to have Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in their blood, indicating use within hours, according to state data. Of those, 63 percent were over 5 nanograms per milliliter, the state’s limit for driving.

Both alcohol and marijuana can affect a driver’s ability to think and solve problems, coordination, reaction time, judgment, memory and mood. While science has figured out just exactly how alcohol impacts the body’s organs, systems and functions, the same cannot be said of cannabis. Results of field sobriety tests, including blood and urine sampling as well as breathalyzers, can tell if a driver’s blood alcohol level is over the legal limit. No test can tell whether a driver is too high to drive because of smoking or inhaling, popping pills, eating or vaporizing cannabis products. Unlike alcohol, the active ingredients that cause the cannabis high can remain detectable in the blood stream for days or weeks; unlike alcohol, the impairment does not wears off in a matter of hours, and no amount of food intake will change the effects. Law enforcement officials, prosecutors and public policy makers concede there’s still too little information about marijuana and how it is detected to understand just how much the drug is affecting traffic fatalities.

Drug-Impaired Driving, Drunk Driving, DUI/DWI/OWI/OWAI, DUID, DWAI, fatalities, Victims of DUI, Wet Reckless

“Wet Reckless” same as “DUI”?

dui_vs_wetrecklessMost states have laws that prohibit prosecutors from reducing DUI charges for suspected drunk drivers. Under California law, however, a plea bargain can be negotiated for impaired drivers to  reduce DUI penalties in exchange for a guilty plea, or to reduce  charges from a DUI/DWI to wet reckless, even though there is technically no actual law on the books that defines what a “wet reckless” charge would be.  If you have been charged with a DUI, DWAI or OWI in Colorado, Florida, Texas or Wisconsin,  you may also be able to have the charge for driving impaired under the influence of drugs or alcohol reduced to wet reckless. In Washington State, DUI charges can be pleaded down to “Wet Negligent Driving” (Negligent Driving in the 1st Degree), which is a misdemeanor in that state.

A person suspected of driving under the influence may take advantage of a wet reckless charge when his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is close to 0.08%. Prosecutors in states where plea bargains are permitted can also pursue a lesser charge of wet reckless if they have a weak case that can be lost at trial.  If someone pleads guilty to a wet reckless charge, they are pleading guilty to a charge of driving recklessly where a prosecutor may have stated for the record that alcohol or drugs were involved with the charge.  Other advantages of pleading guilty to a wet reckless:
–  Unlike a second and third DUI where progressive penalties become harsher, there are usually no mandatory sentencing enhancements for a wet reckless charge.
–  There is also a  shorter jail term associated with a wet reckless charge as compared to a charge of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
–  With a wet reckless charge, in most cases there is no automatic suspension of your license, although the DMV may still do so. Normally, in order for a person who is offered a wet reckless plea bargan to keep their license, they must win their DMV hearing.
–  Generally, the probation period for a first time DUI is anywhere from three to five years. The probation period for a wet reckless is generally one to two years.
–  Although the fines for a wet reckless charge are less than the fines associated with a DUI charge, the increased insurance rates and/or policy cancellations caused by either will be the same, as insurance companies treat DUI charges and wet reckless charges equally.

The consequences of a crash caused by an impaired driver are also the same, whether he or she is charged with a DUI or with wet reckless driving. The latest statistics available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that in 2016, there were  10,497 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentration, content or levels of .08  or higher.

Car insurance, driving behaviors, FICO, Speeding, Technology, telematics, Uncategorized

Telematics technology target car insurance industry

good-credit-score-700-750

Tax season is right around the corner! Taxes = money; money = credit scores; credit scores + big data now = how driving habits can predict the types of premiums insurance companies can charge for coverage. FICO, the data analytics company focused on credit scoring services, has expanded its commercial interests to rating drivers through telematics technology – rating a driver’s acceleration, braking, cornering, speeding, cellphone distractions and other behavioral data that can be captured and turned into a FICO driving score via a smartphone app.

FICO isn’t the only game in town in utilizing telematics technology to target the automobile insurance industry. INSURETHEBOX is the UK’s leading telematics car insurer, having collected over a billion miles of telematics data since their launch in 2010. insurethebox pioneered the use of telematics-based car insurance and shaken up the established car insurance market.

Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses telecommunications, vehicular technologies, road transportation, road safety, electrical engineering (sensors, instrumentation, wireless communications, etc.), and computer science (multimedia, Internet, etc.). Telematics can monitor a vehicle by combining a GPS system with on-board diagnostics, making it possible to record – and map – exactly where a car is and how fast it is traveling, and cross reference that with how a car is behaving internally. Add communication over a 3G network and telematics can be used to send both data and communications back and forth between a vehicle and a central management system. Using sensors in cars and a trackside wireless network, Formula One teams have been using telematics for years to see exactly where opponents are on the racetrack.

 

Both FICO driving scores and insurethebox are designed to give people a way to improve their driving skills through feedback, based on the premise that safe driving leads to rewards and lower premiums. What will be most damaging to the score you might ask?  In the same way that your credit score gets dinged by bad financial behavior such as late bill payments and high debt, your driving score will get dinged by bad driving habits that could lead to a crash.  Unlike traditional credit histories that can be ordered, the FICO driving scores are still not downloadable.

The things that will ding your score the hardest will be your cellphone use while driving (including whether you touch your phone, text, Snapchat, or even use Bluetooth.) Speeding, hard-braking, whether you take hairpin turns, and have a heavy foot on the gas pedal will also be hard on your score. The program will also provide a “gamification or shamification” rating, showing how you compare to other drivers in your company, family or neighborhood.

 

Although companies have expressed interest in using the score, consumers are not enthused about letting an insurance company put a device in their car to monitor their driving habits in exchange for discounts. This was made apparent in a 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. In addition to auto insurance companies applying these scores to calculating premiums,  life insurance companies could follow suit, as could car rental agencies in applying the scores to their rates; commercial drivers might be rated for employment risks based on the scores.

Credit scores plus big data influencing driving behaviors – now that’s an interesting thought to share with budding entrepreneurs!

 

 

safety features, used cars

Used Car Buyers Urged to Prioritize Safety when Purchasing a Vehicle.

 

safe used car for sale copy

The Transport Accident Commission (Victoria, Australia) released research showing that people were twice as likely to be killed if they were in a vehicle older than 10 years.  This is in part due to the fact that safety features such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), electronic stability control (ESC), side curtain airbags, parking and lane sensors and backup cameras are not as common on older cars. Because older vehicles are less likely to have some of these safety technologies, they pose a higher risk of being involved in a crash and provide less protection for drivers and passengers – and can be the difference between a fright and a fatality. The public safety announcement urges used car buyers to prioritize safety when purchasing a vehicle.

 

According to an IHS survey, the typical car on US roads in 2016 was 11.6 years old.  Yet Americans are buying cars at an annualized rate of more than 17 million vehicles, marking a high not seen since before the Great Recession. In 2016, both used and new cars made up the registration pool of 264 million light vehicles in the U.S.  Most used-car buyers use the Internet to research car pricing. The top three reasons car buyers use the Internet to shop  include research pricing, to find cars for sale and to compare vehicles.

usedcars_internet

 

www.howsafeisyourfirstcar.com.au provides a good overview of how to purchase the safest car you can afford

 

autonomous vehicles, Distracted Driving, LIDAR technology for autonomous vehicles, Self-Driving Cars, Uncategorized

Should Uber blame its driver for the first autonomous vehicle-caused fatal pedestrian incident or is the technology flawed?

A video published by police yesterday raises some serious questions about Uber’s driverless-car technology.

UBER_fatal_pedestrian_crash
Tempe police released the video of the UBER self-driving car at the time of the fatal pedestrian crash

This video, released by the Tempe, Arizona, Police Department, shows what happened moments before one of Uber’s autonomous cars killed a pedestrian. The driver was recorded by a camera inside the car, looking down for several seconds.  She looks up at the last moment to see someone walking into the car’s path.

Was #DistractedDriving to blame? Experts have long warned that partial autonomy lulls people into a false sense of security, causing them to become dangerously disengaged. Situational awareness (SA) in driving is compromised with distractions. SA means a driver is aware of his or her surroundings and comprehends the variables in situations that are constantly changing. It can take many seconds for a person to regain situational awareness if something goes wrong – not enough time to prevent a disaster from happening, such as the case of the Uber fatal pedestrian crash.

LIDAR—Light Detection and Ranging – is the technology utilized by autonomous vehicles to measure distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of a target. Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board are tasked with investigating the sensors aboard the Uber self-driving car that failed to spot the pedestrian, who was wheeling her bike across the road.

The scary thought about this incident is that companies rushing to commercialize vehicle automation are already testing experimental systems on public roads – at least 52 companies have permits to test out self-driving cars California alone. Uber has been testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto and the greater Phoenix area for months. Waymo has testing locations in Atlanta, Detroit and Austin. Arizona is also the home for multipe testing sites, including Chandler, Gilbert, Guadalupe, Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe. California testing sites include Carmel, Daly City, Half Moon Bay, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Merced, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Sunnyvale, Tiburon and Truckee. Lyft has a driverless pilot program in Boston and offered driverless rides around the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Cruise Automation driverless cars are on the road in California, Arizona, and Michigan. In 2015, Daimler’s Self Driving Truck became the world’s first licensed autonomous freightliner in Nevada.

Is self-driving vehicle technology moving too quickly for the public’s good? Post your comments.

blood alcohol concentration - BAC, blood alcohol levels - BAL, cannabis, Drug-Impaired Driving, DUID, Legislative Affairs, marajuana, medical marijuana

Another state where voters might support legalization of marijuana

 

While the cultivation, trafficking, sale, or possession of cannabis products is a crime in Illinois under the state’s Controlled Substances ActIllinois marijuana laws are rather lax. Possession of less than 2.5 grams of cannabis is a class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine. Illinois also allows the use of medical marijuana for eligible patients as part of a pilot program slated to run through 2018; marijuana possession, use, cultivation, and sale remain federal crimes.

Marijuana laws are subject to rapid change at present. Although the trend has been toward decriminalization and even full legalization in several states, there are some states looking at significant change in legislative attitudes, such as the case in Illinois.

There is a ballot measure in Cook County — the nation’s second-most-populous county, which has more residents than 27 U.S. states — that sends a strong message to state lawmakers about ending cannabis prohibition. Approved by voters with a greater than two-to-one margin, the ballot question reads:

“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

 

Politicians are climbing aboard the cannabis-support bandwagon,  supporting both the legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana, which is estimated to generate as much as $700 million a year for the state.  Illinois Attorney General Republican nominee Erika Harold suggested officials should begin the process of methodically analyzing and negotiating appropriate safeguards and regulatory frameworks for the legal recreational use of marijuana – the state has already decriminalized medical cannabis. Few are asking voters to consider the ramifications of driving under the influence of marijuana (DUID), especially since the THC in cannabis – the main mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana and the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects – does not have the ability to raise your blood alcohol measurement. This is because THC does not remain in the blood but rather finds its home in the body’s fatty tissues like the brain. While in sufficient quantity, using cannabis products can increase your level of impairment, there is currently no scientific bases to create legal limits for marijuana impairment in the same manner blood alcohol concentration determines drunk driving. as used by law enforcement for BAC/BAL.
According to Herb, the website for cannabis news, THC is present in the blood for about 4 to 12 hours post-consumption. If you’re a heavy user, THC might hang out in your bloodstream for up to a few days. Effects, doses, metabolism, body weight, mind state, environment, blood sugar levels,  age, and certain other factors all affect these numbers, and each individual/every situation is unique. Thus, it is a driver’s responsibility to know when to engage in smoking, eating or inhaling cannabis products so that it doesn’t impair their ability to drive safely.
Did you get a DUI citation and need an online course? Visit us!
Railroad Safety, Uncategorized

Stop. Trains Can’t – New Rail Crossing Safety Campaign Launched With Striking Video

Stop. Trains Cant
Federal Railroad Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration join forces to launch a new rail crossing safety campaign

There is a reason that, by law, a train always has the right of way. You are about 40 times more likely to die in a crash with a train than with another motor vehicle. People have been injured or killed because they thought they could beat the train. You can’t always count on the railroad crossing signals to be working, so look both directions to make sure a train is not approaching……You are about 40 times more likely to die in a crash with a train than with another motor vehicle. People have been injured or killed because they thought they could beat the train. You can’t always count on the railroad crossing signals to be working, so look both directions to make sure a train is not approaching……According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were there were  2,105 collisions, 274 Fatalities and 807 injuries at railroad crossings in 2017, with 274 people killed. According to federal data, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States approximately every three hours. Due to their sheer size trains appear to be slow, but they are deceptively fast. Technological advances have made railroad crossings them quiet and thus more difficult to detect. As a result, many drivers, thinking they have time, try to drive around the lowered gates or race across the tracks to try and beat the train. Nearly half of all car-train crashes occur at crossings where warning devices were active.

The Department of Transportation kicked off a new railroad crossing safety campaign on Friday with a striking new videoThe ad, a collaborative effort between the Federal Railroad Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, shows a freight train traveling through the outskirts of a city before crashing into the side of an SUV. The engineer appears to apply the brakes, but it cannot slow down quickly enough. The train travels some distance as the vehicle is violently dragged along the tracks.

The ad’s title is “Stop. Trains Can’t.”

It takes a freight train traveling at 55 mph a mile to come to a complete stop even with the emergency brake applied.

“Education is key here – sometimes a driver is distracted, or in an unfamiliar area. Other times, the state highway department has not done enough to warn drivers they are approaching a crossing,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “We must do everything we can to give drivers the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe – and this ad helps us do just that.”

The Department of Transportation is spending $7 million to run the ad, which targets males between the ages of 18 and 49 in the areas where railroad crossing accidents are particularly problematic.

The ads will run in California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Jersey, Arkansas and Arizona.

autonomous vehicles, driverless technology, Self-Driving Cars, Technology

Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index – Assessing openness and preparedness for autonomous vehicles worldwide

KPMG_Autonomous_Vehicles Readiness Index
Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index – Assessing Openness and Preparedness for Autonomous Vehicles Worldwide, https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/01/avri.pdf

Self-driving cars are beginning to show up on public roads, in public policy and on the horizon of drivers’ consciousness, and have made substantial progress in creating a new economic sector in countries throughout the world.Technology is transforming the transportation industry, including automobiles, and the pace of innovation is accelerating; It will affect us all. A recent report from KPMG International explores the readiness of countries around the world “on the cusp of a transport revolution”.

The top global leaders in the race to bring self-driving cars – the so-called autonomous driving vehicles – to city streets and highways were determined by measuring public policy initiatives, technology and innovation fostered; infrastructure built, and consumer acceptance cultivated. The number one country? The Netherlands. Rounding out the top five are Singapore, USA, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with Germany, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, and South Korea comprising the rest of the top 10.

Making up the list’s lower half are Japan, Austria, France, Australia, Spain, China, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, and India.

Complete rankings, detailed breakdowns of each country’s strong suits and shortcomings, and more information on how the research was compiled and conducted can be found in the report, Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index – Assessing Openness and Preparedness for Autonomous Vehicles Worldwide, https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/01/avri.pdf

airbags, Recalls, Uncategorized

NHTSA Issues Consumer Safety Advisory

NHTSA recall

Ford and Mazda announced they are expanding their ‘do not drive warning’ to include additional MY 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks with defective Takata air bags based on new testing, according to a NHTSA notice released today.

These vehicles have defective Takata air bags that are an immediate risk to safety. Affected owners are urged not to drive these vehicles and to contact Ford and Mazda immediately to schedule a free repair. Ford and Mazda have replacement air bags available now and will tow vehicles to a local dealership for repair, and provide loaner vehicles – all free of charge.

NHTSA is calling on the media, safety advocates and the public to help spread this urgent safety message to ensure it reaches owners. NHTSA will continue to ensure all consumers are kept informed of current and future recalls.

To stay informed and safe, NHTSA urges all drivers to take the following five actions.

  1. Visit NHTSA.gov to find out if your car or truck is under recall. Search using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Your search result will tell you if your car or truck is included in this or any other safety recall at this time. Vehicles scheduled for future recalls will not show up in this search, so it is important that you check regularly, at least twice per year.
  2. If your vehicle does have a recall, call your local dealer to schedule the free repair. Just remember that in the Takata air bag recalls, there are priority groups; parts are only available for certain vehicles starting at certain dates.
  3. Sign up at NHTSA.gov/Alerts to be notified by e-mail if your vehicle is affected by a future recall.
  4. Get answers to frequently asked questions at nhtsa.gov/takata.
  5. Help spread the word: share NHTSA’s consumer fact sheet and video with friends and family.

Stay connected with NHTSA: Search for open recalls with NHTSA.gov/Recalls| Download the Safercar Mobile App for Apple or Android devices | Receive recall alerts by e-mail | Visit us on Facebook.com/NHTSA| Follow on Twitter.com/NHTSA.gov | Watch 5-Star Safety Ratings crash tests onYouTube.com/USDOTNHTSA.

Florida Highway Patrol, Hit and Run, Uncategorized

FHP promotes Hit-and-Run Awareness

Stay_at_Scene

From year to year, Florida has seen the amount of hit and run crashes remain steady, with nearly 25 percent of all crashes involving a hit and run. Although the majority of hit and run crashes only result in property damage, hit and run crashes can be deadly. The Stay at the Scene campaign aims to reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida by educating drivers on their responsibilities if involved in a crash and the serious consequences they face if they choose not to Stay at the Scene.

The penalties for hit and run drivers changed on July 1, 2014 when the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act (section 316.027, Florida Statutes) was signed into Florida law. The statute is named after Aaron Cohen, a 31-year-old avid cyclist and father of two that was fatally struck by an alcohol impaired driver that fled the crash scene in February 2012 in central Florida. The hit and run driver was sentenced to two years in prison, a lesser sentence than what the motorist would have served had he been sentenced on a DUI manslaughter charge. The Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act imposes a mandatory minimum of 4 years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in a fatality.

HIT AND RUN PENALTIES

For more information, see Florida Statutes 316.061316.027.
Leaving the scene of the crash with:
PROPERTY DAMAGE Second Degree Misdemeanor
Up to 60 days in prison and $500 fine
INJURIES Second or third degree felony
Revoked license for at least 3 years
Up to five years in prison and $5,000 fine
FATALITIES First degree felony
Revoked license for at least three years
Mandatory minimum of 4 years in prison, up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine

If you are involved in a crash, stay at the scene and call for help. It’s not just the law – you could save a life.

If you have information on a hit and run crash vehicle and/or driver, you can report it anonymously to Crime Stoppers.

____________________________________________________________

This article is a reprint of information provided by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) and its division of the Florida Highway Patrol in recognition of  Hit and Run Awareness Month.   In partnership with the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association and Florida Association of Crime Stoppers, the initiative seeks to reduce the number of hit and run crashes in Florida and encourage individuals to anonymously report information to solve hit and run investigations.