Should You Get a Ticket For Driving Stoned?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman PhD Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Public Policy NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

Prof. Kleiman

Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman PhD
Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Public Policy
NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: As state after state legalizes the sale of cannabis, the question of cannabis-impaired driving is getting more attention. There is evidence that the practice has become more common, both because cannabis use – and especially heavy, frequent use – has increased and because a distressingly large fraction of cannabis users believe, falsely, that stoned driving is safe.

The natural response to the problem is to treat cannabis on a par with alcohol: fairly severe criminal penalties for impaired driving, with impairment defined by a specific level of the drug in the body. The paper argues that this would be a mistake, for four independent reasons:

– While cannabis makes driving riskier, it does so by about a factor of two, with no strongly observed dependency on dosage. Alcohol, by contrast, has a steep dose-effect curve. At the legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content by weight, the relative risk of drunk driving is at least eight; at 0.15%, which is fairly common, the relative risk has been estimated at 30-50. So there is no justification for punishing stoned driving as severely as we punish drunk driving.

– The lack of evidence of a strong dose-effect relationship suggests that a legal standard based on the content of cannabinoids in blood may not be appropriate.

– Even if a blood standard were valid, the lack of a breath test would make enforcing that standard nearly impossible as a practical matter.

– The long and unpredictable course of cannabis metabolism means that frequent users will be at risk of failing a drug test even when they are neither subjectively intoxicated nor objectively impaired. Worse, they would have no way of judging in advance whether or not driving would be legal. The result would be a re-criminalization of cannabis use through the back door.  Continue reading

40% of High School Drivers Text While Driving

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:,
Motao Zhu, MD, MS, PhD Principal Investigator Center for Injury Research and Policy The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital​ Columbus, OHMotao Zhu, MD, MS, PhD
Principal Investigator
Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital​
Columbus, OH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know that texting while driving occurs frequently among teen drivers. This study looks at the differences of texting while driving among teens between states. 

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. In 2016, over 2,000 teens in the US aged 14-18 years died in motor vehicle crashes and nearly 260,000 were seriously injured in traffic-related incidents. Teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers on the road. Among distracted driving, texting while driving may be especially risky because it involves at least three types of driver distraction: visual, physical, and cognitive. Texting while driving is banned for all drivers in 47 states and the District of Columbia, yet this study shows it still occurs regularly among teen drivers.

Overall (nationally), about 40% of high school student drivers text while driving at least once/month. The rate varies among states. The lowest is 26% (Maryland) and highest is 64% (South Dakota). Texting while driving among high school student drivers is highest in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

These results were not surprising. There are state level factors to explain them. The top 5 highest texting while driving among high school student drivers (Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska) are rural states with a high percent of high school student drivers and students can get their learners permit by age 15. Continue reading

Why Does Driving Make Us Sleepy?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Driving...” by Stig Nygaard is licensed under CC BY 2.0Prof. Stephen R Robinson PhD
Discipline Leader, Psychology
School of Health and Biomedical Sciences
RMIT University
Australia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Around the world, driver drowsiness and fatigue are estimated to contribute to 250,000 deaths on the road per year. Current research in this area has focused on detecting when drivers become drowsy, by examining their eye movements or steering patterns, and then alerting the driver with a warning tone or vibration of the steering wheel. Rather than this reactive approach, we are interested in helping to prevent drivers from becoming drowsy in the first place.

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Driving Skills May Be Harder to Master with ASD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Driving” by Martin Alvarez Espinar is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kristina Elise Patrick, Ph.D

Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Columbus, OH 43205

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Many families of young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are concerned that they may have difficulty acquiring driver’s licenses and driving safely because of symptoms of ASD. However, the ability to drive opens the door to a variety of social, occupational, and educational experiences. We aimed to assess differences in simulated driving behaviors of young adults with ASD and those with typical development and to evaluate whether differences depended on level of driving experience and complexity of the driving task.

On average, young adults with ASD had more difficulty regulating their speed and position within their lane compared with typically developing individuals even on a very basic rural route. After completing the basic route, drivers were required to engage in more complex tasks such as changing the radio or engaging in conversation while driving, driving through a construction zone, and following behind a truck. On complex driving tasks, drivers with ASD who had acquired licensure drove similarly to typically developing drivers who had acquired licensure. However, novice drivers with ASD had more difficulty than typically developing drivers regulating their speed and position within the lane.

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Sending That Quick Text While Driving Can Kill You

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“texting and driving” by frankieleon is licensed under CC BY 2.0Ole J. Johansson

Junior researcher
Master’s in social psychology
Institute of Transport Economics

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Many countries have bans on driving while distracted and would fine drivers for texting while driving. Furthermore, people mostly know about the dangers of not paying attention to the traffic. Still, many people do engage in distracting behaviors. Thus, in this study, I wanted to examine:

a) Who are more likely to engage with distractors?

b) Is there an easy way to help people avoid distractions?

From these two points, we developed the study to engage with distracted driving from a psychological and scientific point of view.

Specifically using the theory of planned behavior and the big five to answer point a) and implementation intentions to answer point b).

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Roadside Oral Fluid Testing for Marijuana Intoxication

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mitchell L. Doucette, MS PhD Candidate The William Haddon Jr Fellowship in Injury Prevention 2017 Co-Fellow Center for Injury Research and Policy Department of Health Management and Policy Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Baltimore, MD 21205

Mitchell Doucette

Mitchell L. Doucette, MS
PhD Candidate
The William Haddon Jr Fellowship in Injury Prevention 2017 Co-Fellow
Center for Injury Research and Policy
Department of Health Management and Policy
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD 21205

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Currently in the U.S., 8 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and an additional 28 states permit marijuana for medical use. Some states have instituted a legal driving limit for marijuana intoxication, 5 ng/mL, and for Colorado specifically, research indicates the average time from law enforcement dispatch to blood sample collection was 2.32 hours—a period of time outside the window of legal sample collection under state law and peak THC detectability. Countries with similar marijuana driving limits perform roadside oral fluid testing for establishing intoxication at point of arrest.

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Three-Prong Approach To Driving Assessment of Potentially Unsafe Drivers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Lisa Kirk Wiese PhD, RN, APHN-BC C.E. Lynn College of Nursing Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL 3343

Dr. Lisa Wiese

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The impetus for this article was our experience from working at FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing’s Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center with families as we conducted assessments of older adults referred to our program by family members or law enforcement. We realized that there is a need to educate nurses that a) they can help to identify persons who may be at risk for unsafe driving before accidents occur, and b) there are resources to help families and nurses navigate this challenging topic. This awareness is especially important for persons and friend/family members who find themselves trying to cope with a known or potential diagnosis of dementia.

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Women, Young Drivers More Likely to Talk or Text While Driving

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michelle Wilkinson, MPH

Doctoral Candidate Epidemiology
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health
Houston, TX 77030

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cell phone use (CPU) while driving impairs visual awareness and reaction time, increasing frequency of near-collisions, collisions, and accidents with injuries. National prevalence estimates of driver cell phone use range from 5-10%. Medical and academic centers have large concentrations of young, ill, or elderly pedestrians and drivers, who are often unfamiliar with the congested environment. Drivers distracted by Cell phone use are a safety threat to pedestrians and drivers in these demanding environments. This study aimed to describe the prevalence and correlates of cell phone use among Texas drivers in major medical and academic centers, 2011-2013. This study found the overall prevalence of cell phone use while driving was 18%. The prevalence of Cell phone useand talking declined, while texting increased during the study period. Cell phone users were more likely to be female, <25 years old, and driving without a passenger.

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Significant Repercussions When Spouse Stops Driving

Angela L. Curl PhD MSW School of Social Work University of Missouri Columbia, MOMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Angela L. Curl PhD MSW
School of Social Work
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Curl: Often people think of stopping driving as just effecting one person: the person who stops driving. In reality, for married couples driving cessation affects both spouses. Using longitudinal data (1998-2010) from 1,457 married couples participating in the Health and Retirement Study, we found that husbands and wives who are no longer able to drive are less likely to work, and less likely to engage in formal volunteering (for charitable organizations) and informal volunteering (helping friends and neighbors not-for-pay). Having a spouse in the household who is still able to drive does reduce these negative consequences a little, but not entirely. Furthermore, the spouse who continues to drive is also less likely to continue working or volunteering following the driving cessation of their partner, presumably because he/she is providing transportation or social support to the non-driver.

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Huntington Disease Affects Driving Skill Even in Early Stages

Hannes Devos, PhD Assistant Professor Assistant Director Georgia Regents University Driving Simulator Lab Department of Physical Therapy College of Allied Health Sciences Georgia Regents University Augusta, GA 30912MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Hannes Devos, PhD
Assistant Professor
Assistant Director Georgia Regents University Driving Simulator Lab Department of Physical Therapy
College of Allied Health Sciences
Georgia Regents University Augusta, GA 30912

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Devos: We compared on-road driving performance between 30 active drivers with Huntington disease and 30 age- and gender- matched control drivers. We found that Huntington disease affects all levels of driving skill due to motor and cognitive deficits and leads to unsafe driving, even in the early stages of the disease. Fourteen (47%) drivers with Huntington disease failed the road test compared with none of the controls.

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