U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rick Scott (R-FL) plan to introduce new legislation forcing automakers to install hardware that would effectively stop intoxicated individuals from operating motor vehicles by the middle of the next decade. The stated goal is to prevent the thousands of fatal crashes stemming from drunk driving each year. It’s similar to a bill introduced by House Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI), which aims to have advanced DUI prevention devices in all cars by 2024.
While it’s difficult to get bent out of shape over any system that curtails drunk driving, we’ve managed to find a way. As usual, it plays into your author’s ever-growing phobia of surveillance-focused technologies.
The Supreme Court has ruled that police may order blood drawn from an unconscious person suspected of driving under the influence without a warrant. While that sounds like a possible violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches, justices in support of the practice claimed individuals consent to blood tests just by being on the road.
Their rationale? Wisconsin and a bunch of other U.S. states have laws that already make this legal and there’s a national precedent allowing for exigent circumstances. But let’s start with America’s Dairyland for some background.
The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office had a run-in with a drunk driver over the weekend. While there’s typically nothing funny about catching someone driving under the influence, fate saw fit to throw us a bone in this instance, as the encounter led to comical shenanigans involving Axe body spray.
Apparently, the driver decided to fill his mouth with the substance in an attempt to fool an approaching deputy.
Can you be pulled over and ordered to blow into a breathalyzer, under threat of arrest, for the simple act of returning empty liquor bottles in the middle of the day? Sure can, at least if you’re living north of the border. It happened to a 70-year-old man in Mississauga, Ontario last weekend.
As part of a massive package of laws enacted in mid-December, Canadian drivers are waking up to the knowledge that the legal standard of “reasonable suspicion” no longer exists when it comes to interactions with the police — at least when pertaining to the combination of alcohol and motor vehicles.
This week, they’re learning it’s possible to face a drunk driving charge, even if you only started drinking after you got home.
California Highway Patrol arrested a 45-year-old man early Friday morning under the suspicion of driving under the influence while his 2017 Tesla Model S was operating in Autopilot on Highway 101.
While condemned previously for its misleading marketing, Tesla has been clearer of late that Autopilot is not self-driving. Likewise, anyone who owns one of its vehicles should be able to understand that the feature has limitations necessitating regular human involvement to complete any journey.
However, none of this has stopped individuals from abusing the driving aid. In August another motorist was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol after his Tesla collided with a fire truck. Earlier in the year, a Tesla owner passed out while behind the wheel. Fortunately, Autopilot brought the vehicle to a stop in the middle of the Oakland Bay Bridge.
Brian France, NASCAR Chairman/CEO and least photogenic man alive, was arrested for driving under the influence and being in possession of Oxycodone over the weekend. If your illicit substances dictionary hasn’t been updated for a few volumes, Oxycodone is a powerful opioid with a few different brand names that lends itself heavily to addiction and dependence. Meanwhile, “under the influence” still just means drunk.
In charge of NASCAR since 2003, France’s family has been behind the wheel of the sport since its inception in 1948. While we absolutely don’t condone drinking and driving, there is something oddly fitting about the CEO of a sport founded by bootleggers getting slapped with a DUI.
A bill seeking to amend Virginia’s DUI laws passed through the state Senate last month, but don’t expect the law to make it onto the books. The legislation aimed to make intoxicated driving legal if a driver performed the boozy feat on his or her own private property, with all other existing laws remaining the same.
As you might expect, this didn’t go over well with law enforcement, politicians, safety advocates, and various other concerned citizenry.
Back in 2014, an American Automobile Association study estimated that tired motorists were responsible for around 328,000 accidents annually — 6,400 of which were fatal. However, unlike drunk driving, there’s no sound metric for assessing the true scope of the problem. Getting tired is something that just sort of happens. People don’t stay out all night not sleeping because it’s fun, the police can’t test for it, and almost nobody is going to say they were dozing off behind the wheel in an accident report — either because they are too embarrassed or stopped feeling tired at the moment of their brush with death.
That makes the issue a bit of a phantom menace. We all know it’s a problem, but the frequency remains debatable. Fortunately, a new study released by AAA this week helps clear things up. Researchers affixed dashboard cameras to 3,593 vehicles in order to monitor the drivers’ faces, then used a PERCLOS-based fatigue monitoring strategy to come to the conclusion that drowsiness is a contributing factor in 10.6 to 10.8 percent of all accidents resulting in significant property damage, airbag deployment, or injury.
With automakers, the Department of Transportation, NHTSA, and Congress all attempting to get self-driving vehicles onto the road as quickly as possible, the autonomous revolution finds itself in a sticky situation. Some motorists are confusing their semi-autonomous technology with an impenetrable safety net. This has resulted in avoidable accidents as drivers assume their high-tech cars can cope with whatever’s thrown at them, and it’s probably going to get worse as more idiots buy them.
We’ve already covered how semi-autonomous features make everyone less-effective behind the wheel and the fatal Tesla Autopilot crash was a story we kept up with for over a year. Investigators ruled that accident was the perfect storm of mishaps, however, there remains a common thread between the two pieces. The driver may have been spared were he not so eager to put his faith into the vehicle’s semi-autonomous system.
On Monday, a Tesla Model S collided with stopped firetruck that was responding to an accident on a freeway in Culver City, California. As you already guessed, the driver told the firefighters that the vehicle was operating in Autopilot mode. While nobody was injured in the crash, it’s another stroke in the ugly portrait of people placing blind trust in a technology they don’t understand. And, boy oh boy, are we just getting started on illustrating this problem.
We’ve all been there. It’s late, we haven’t slept enough, and we’re cruising down a chilly freeway wrapped in warmth and white noise. Then, unexpectedly, we begin to nod off. From here, we can either spring back to a terrified state of consciousness that will sustain us the rest of the journey or we can fall asleep and ultimately destroy our vehicle — and maybe ourselves — in the process.
Drowsy driving is a real problem. But, while we’re always hearing about how it’s just as dangerous as driving drunk, we don’t often see statistics backing that up. That’s mainly because it’s a lot harder to assess someone’s tiredness than it is to give them a breathalyzer and toss them in the back of a squad car. But a 2014 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated drowsy drivers could contribute to 328,000 accidents annually, with around 6,400 being fatal.
Some might quibble over where “the limit” should be when we’re talking drunk driving — 0.05, 0.08, 0.10 — but few responsible people would argue against the need for impaired driving legislation. Until smartphones and other distracting electronic accoutrements came along, boozy drivers were the leading cause of carnage on the roads.
Now, many of us our personal vehicle to drive to the lake, the seaside, or perhaps a nearby river, where our boat, be it large or small, awaits. Maybe it’s a canoe or kayak. Maybe — because cabin cruiser dollars are hard to come by — it’s an inflatable mattress or inner tube where you can use your feet for propulsion.
Well, if you reside north of the border and were thinking of popping a few beers and paddling about in your human-powered floatation device (after hearing Canada’s recent announcement that drunk driving laws would no longer apply to unmotorized boats), think again. Special interest groups have intervened, and that law will remain on the books.
Drunk paddling? There goes your Chevrolet.
It’s estimated that roughly 28 people are killed every day as a result of drivers intoxicated on alcohol. In 2015, 10,265 people died in alcohol-related incidents, accounting for nearly one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities within the United States. However, the Department of Transportation shows the number of deaths associated with drunk driving trending downward since 2007. Likewise, the number of annual self-reported alcohol-impaired driving episodes recorded by the CDC have diminished to record lows in that same timeframe — and so have arrests.
Law enforcement likely played an important role. Police departments take drunk driving seriously and decades of aggressive actions have made the risks involved less than appetizing to even those whose judgement is clouded by booze. But as alcohol-related arrests have plummeted, drug-related arrests have gone up.
While much of this can be attributed to drunk drivers who decided to double-down with marijuana, drugs are estimated to be a factor in 16 percent of motor vehicle crashes where alcohol isn’t present. This has resulted in some police departments implementing special task forces designated to identify and arrest “drugged drivers.” But there is a problem — officers in Georgia have been arresting innocent people.
Remember the good old days? When men were men, women were grateful for that, and drunk drivers weren’t running into aircraft? Well, it’s #THE CURRENT YEAR, as noted pint-sized pansy ass John Oliver reminds America’s idle rich every Sunday night, and those innocent times of yore are long gone, replaced by a world in which even fire ants need a safe space.
But there’s no space in Gallup, New Mexico that is safe from drunk drivers, as 26-year-old Glenn Livingston recently proved.
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