The holidays bring families together who travel long distances to see relatives and share in seasonal memories. Unfortunately, it can also be a busy time on the road for drunk drivers.
Most people are aware of the dangers of driving distracted or drunk, but many of us have no qualms about driving while tired. However, these driving patterns can be just as dangerous.
Auto accidents can be stressful, especially if you are concerned that you are even a little at fault. Maybe you took your eyes of the road to look at a sign for just a second, or you hit the breaks during inclement weather and they didn’t stop you in time. Someone else’s negligence was at more fault, but you’re worried about the repercussions if your driving wasn’t perfect.
When most of us think of distracted drivers, the image of someone texting while behind the wheel comes to mind. However, distracted driving can occur for several reasons, most of which aren’t legislated.
It's back to school time and thousands of students around the United States are headed off to college. Some college Freshman are not allowed to have cars their first year on campus but for many students, cars are a necessity.
According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, "All states but Utah define driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent as a crime, and specific laws and penalties vary substantially from state to state. Effective December 30, 2018, Utah's BAC will be set at 0.05 percent."Driving under the influence of alcohol is clearly defined by each state as a crime. But what isn't so clearly defined is driving under the influence of drugs, specifically THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana that gets people high.
Part of the difficulty is determining what constitutes THC levels that impair function. Unlike alcohol, which is measured in parts per thousand, THC is approximately a billion times less concentrated than alcohol and dissolves in fat so it can stay in your body for up to a month after use.
Hound Labs, a California based company, claims it may have cracked the code by developing a breathalyzer that can detect THC levels in a person's breath. Mike Lynn, emergency room trauma physician and CEO of Hound Labs, states "When you find THC in breath, you can be pretty darn sure that somebody smoked pot in the last couple of hours...And we don't want to have people driving during that time period or, frankly, at a work site in a construction zone."
This breathalyzer is used in the same way that a traditional breathalyzer is used. A person breathes into the breathalyzer cartridge, it is then plugged into a base that regulates the temperature of the cartridge and also reads the results. This breathalyzer can actually detect alcohol levels as well. Law enforcement agencies are anxious to find concrete methods to determine impairment on site because current testing measures can take days to provide proof of drugs in the system and officers are forced to do field sobriety tests and rely on observation, which can be subjective.
Is this breathalyzer going to be the breakthrough it claims to be? More research may be required. Most states still need to determine legal guidelines regarding THC levels and impairment. According to NPR, "So far only seven states, including Washington and Montana, have set legal guidelines as to how much THC in the system makes you dangerous behind the wheel. Yet some scientists are skeptical, saying those limits aren't really backed by hard science."
An additional challenge is the breathalyzer can only detect that THC has been used within a certain time frame but it can not determine the amount used. "We need more research to establish the dose-response relationship between THC level and crash risk," says epidemiologist Guohua Li, who directs the Columbia Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention.
In the meantime, a few law enforcement agencies are going to partner with Hound Labs to begin field testing the breathalyzer, but the challenge of the results being admissible in court has several agencies waiting to see the results before jumping on board.
Reducing the number of accidents caused by driving under the influence is the main concern. But accidents do still happen. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident caused by someone driving under the influence, we can help. Contact our office for a FREE consultation.
Motorcycle safety is not just the responsibility of the motorcyclist. There are also important steps that motor vehicle drivers can take to avoid accidents with motorcycles.
The holidays can be a wonderful time of year full of gatherings with friends and family, but they can also be a dangerous time of year when traveling.
In a recent study published by the Rand Corporation, they concluded that getting self driving cars on the road that have a safety improvement factor of even 10 percent above human driving safety performance can save upwards of hundreds of thousands of lives. A main concern about deploying self driving vehicles has been the need to test them to reach levels of 75 to 90 percent safety performance rates. Authors Nidhi Kalra and David G. Groves wrote an article referring to the Rand study that concluded, "In the short term, more lives are cumulatively saved under a more permissive policy (Improve10) than stricter policies requiring greater safety advancements (Improve75 or Improve90) in nearly all conditions, and those savings can be significant - hundreds of thousands of lives."
This is good news for Waymo, a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet who have begun the first public tests of self-driving cars without backup drivers in Phoenix Arizona. Initially all test passengers will be Waymo employees but eventually Waymo will open its doors to Arizona residents. The model will follow a ride hailing service rather than producing vehicles for private ownership and use.
One of the largest obstacles with determining the safety of self driving cars is the fact that currently there is no standardized reliable testing system in place. A recent NPR article referring to this issue states, "There isn't a set system in place on just how safety can be measured without putting cars on the street. How can we know when an autonomous car actually reaches the point of being safer than a human, if ever?"
Current legislation is being explored to try to regulate the production and use of self driving cars. However, there are several other issues at play. Will the public at large accept self driving cars? Who is liable if a self driving car is in an accident? Is a safer self driving car really safe enough? It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the world of personal injuries. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact our office for a free consultation. We can help.
Every day, millions of Americans get behind the wheel of a car. People in Utah are no exception to that rule. Across the state every day, there are roughly 164 motor vehicle accidents.