Colorado highway deaths near historic lows


#1

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#2

Due to an increase of “Driving While Mellow”?


#3

Maybe they’re substituting weed for metal in cars?


#4

It’s because they’re all driving seven. Seven!


#5

Then again…


#6

Since all we know is the highway deaths are down, I’m going to add another speculation into the mix. I used to work at an adult ed. centre located on a large property – it took a good minute to walk from the doors to the nearest property line. The school board was very strict about no smoking on the property – students could be expelled if they were caught smoking on the grounds several times.

In the winter, the smokers didn’t want to stand just outside the fence line to have a cigarette, so they used to go to the parking lot and smoke in their cars. The school board said they couldn’t, and enforced the no-smoking ban. The students said they were inside their own space (the car), so it wasn’t enforceable. The school board held firm.

So the smokers would get in their cars, drive around a big block, have their smoke, and then park in the school parking lot again. They only had a 15 minute break between classes to do this (lunch hour they would just leave for lunch anyhow).

Ever been behind someone who’s trying to smoke and drive and hurry up at the same time? It doesn’t matter that it’s tobacco and not marijuana – they don’t drive well (to be fair, a good driver could manage it, but these weren’t necessarily good drivers).

Now that CO has legalised pot, I expect there will be fewer people trying to sneak a joint in the “safe space” of their car, which means less toking while driving, not more.


#7

In other words, hysterical anti-drug zealots might just be wrong?

The sad thing is that when/if the data doesn’t back them up, they still won’t tone down the crazy. When one kid dies or one crash happens, it’ll be the poster-child for going back to stupid, draconian punishments.

Let people act like responsible adults. Punishment can be meted out to those who don’t.


#8

I live in Colorado, and have seen this first hand. I have seen people lighting up pipes while driving, and that worries me. The good thing about alcohol is that you can generally smell it on people, and there are some good tests to tell who is driving drunk. There is no breathalyzer test for pot. Of course, you can smell it, but there is no good way to tell how much the driver has had short of a blood test.

I am one of the people who voted FOR legalization – I always prefer to err on the side of more freedom. But I honestly don’t see why people can’t simply realize that MJ is OK, driving is OK, but don’t mix the two.


#9

You still have to listen to metal when driving though but.


#10

We need a better way of determining that someone is too intoxicated to drive. Something that could be self-evaluated would be ideal.

I’m one of those people who was on the fence about pot legalization (I just wanted some other state to be the guinea pig - thanks Colorado and Washington!), but I’m far more worried about people taking large doses of benzos or painkillers or even being sleep deprived and driving than I am about driving under the influence of pot.


#11

Or we can test for things like actual responsiveness. We could have some test were people have to respond to commands, perhaps demonstrate the ability to walk a line straight, and if they can’t then we find them unfit to drive.

Luckily, that’s a test we already have! Instead of testing “do they have this specific drug in their system” we should be testing (and enforcing!) “is this person fit to drive”.

( Instead, of course, we have laws that seem explicitly geared to put people who are unfit to drive on the road - I’ve been so tired I was hallucinating and police officers force me back onto the road, over my protests, because it wasn’t okay to sleep on the side of the highway/side of the suburban road with parked cars/gas station parking lot. Yes, three times by three different cops in the same night, within the span of half an hour. I knew I wasn’t safe to drive, but the police officers insisted I get back onto the road anyway. It was insane.)


#12

This is a big issue. When people talk about stoned driving I think they are recalling what a problem drunk driving has been in the past. They are mistakenly thinking that big problem on the roads is intoxicated driving. The thinking is “drunk driving was a big deal and pot is like booze so stoned driving is a big deal.”

But drunk driving wasn’t a big deal because it involved intoxicants. It was a big deal because a lot of people were dying.

But in reality the big problem is bad driving. Drunk driving was a big target because it was actually causing a lot of accidents and because it was felt that something could be done about it, but that’s really what it was - low hanging fruit among the wide range of problems on the roads.

It’s kind of hard to imagine that stoned driving will become as large a problem as drunk driving was in the past. Right now sleep deprivation is probably a much larger cause of accidents. Unfortunately I think that’s a much harder thing to change.


#13

Interestingly, the last accident I witnessed was directly caused by texting. This is probably the most preventable type of accident on the road these days.


#14

I did say “might” :smiley:


#15

Yeah, texting while driving seems so ridiculously stupid it’s hard to understand how it is happening but I know that it is happening and it really deserves the kind of public awareness campaigns it is getting (at least where I live).

Of course where I live the number one way to improve traffic safety would be to get the mayor a chauffeur (zing!).

One can, if one stretches one’s imagination, conceive of a situation where…


#16

It should probably be noted that we are near 90 year lows in the US for motor vehicle deaths (per capita and per mile driven) even as the number of accidents has remained fairly flat. Even the absolute number of deaths is hovering around 60 year lows.

Whether this is due to improvements in car safety features or something else is an open question. We know alcohol related deaths are down, but it is likely a whole host of factors influencing fatalities.

Really the Colorado numbers need to be compared to national numbers (which sadly aren’t updated frequently enough) in order to see if they are dropping as fast as the national average - because even though they are falling, it doesn’t mean that they are as good as they could have been (my money though is on them matching or beating the average though).


#17

LMGTFY


#18

And if you would have actually followed through on your link you would find that there is not a device in use yet that actually works. So Kevin’s statement is still true.


#19

Good god, that sounds like bad statistics.

First, using deaths as a proxy for bad driving? How about total collisions and property damage? Stoned driving is typically slower and is going to cause fender benders rather than carnage.

Second, the historical context is missing. Traffic deaths go down nationally anyway thanks to safer cars. Did we expect deaths to go down more than they did and this is really higher than expected?

Third, this data is really limited. It’s just a few months (in fact leaving out the second half of each year, for last year and all others). It is highly dependent on the weather, especially in winter months.

What we need is a control. As in a real science experiment.

Lastly, as the most fervent anti-drugged-driving person on bb, I have failed at getting my message across if I’m being called hysterical. I’ve consistently called for better data (which time will tell), argued against bad data like this, and called out people who only praise the benefits of mj (prisons, sin tax revenue) without acknowledging any dangers (especially to people who don’t imbibe).


#20

That is going to be a fun one to get past the ethics board:) I wonder if Facebook would be willing to do it.

But seriously any experiment with proper controls will be far removed from many real life factors, just as these statistics are far removed from proper controls.