Friday, August 7, 2015

App Shows Freight Truck and Car Drivers Their Level of Impairment After Smoking Marijuana

Legalisation Leads to US Self-Test Kit Whilst UK Safety Group Pleads for Zero Alcohol Levels
Shipping News Feature

US – UK – In the US a small start-up company has produced an app suitably titled ‘Canary’ which is intended to help car and freight truck drivers decide whether they are fit to take control of a vehicle. Whilst not condoning the practice of taking drugs, prescription or otherwise, if they are likely to affect performance, this application is clearly aimed at those who smoke marijuana, particularly where it is no longer proscribed.

The drug was legalised in Colorado last year and a Boulder based company, Belles Farm (named after owner Marc Silverman’s dog) have produced something that Silverman describes as ‘a tool for responsible individuals’. The app tests memory, reaction time, balance, and time perception, aping the tests performed by US law enforcers at roadside. A video on the Belles Farm site illustrates just how the thing works and the traffic light system it uses to indicate whether a person is OK to drive, partially impaired or a serious risk to themselves or others.

Whether one believes that anyone possibly impaired to any degree should be in charge of a vehicle, particularly a large truck, is of course a different matter and the app results will be no defence in the case of an accident or arrest, but so far over 10,000 people have downloaded the $4.99 item from the iTunes App Store, and talk of an Android version in the next few months persists.

Work continues in America to produce an effective marijuana breathalyser test kit but globally drink driving still remains the major cause of impaired judgement accidents. In the UK, Brake, the road safety charity, has reiterated its call for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit, in response to government figures which it says show Britain is still failing to adequately tackle the problem. A final estimate shows 240 people were killed by drivers over the legal drink drive limit in 2013, while provisional estimates suggest at least that number were killed again in 2014.

The statistics released make interesting reading with the number of people seriously injured in drink drive crashes actually falling by 8% to 1,100 from 2012 to 2013, with drink drive casualties of all severities down 17% to 8,270 in the same period. 74% of those killed and seriously injured are male with 31% of drivers killed aged 25 to 39 were over the drink drive limit, the highest of any age group, whilst 25% of fatal or serious injury incidents involved young drivers of 17-24 years. Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive, Brake, said:

“While the overall reduction in drink drive casualties is encouraging, it is sad and disappointing to learn that the number of deaths has remained the same, as it has approximately since the government axed road casualty reduction targets in 2010. Education on drink driving is important, but it can only achieve so much. It seems we have reached a point where further meaningful reductions in devastating and needless drink drive deaths and serious injuries require more decisive action.

“Brake is calling for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit and greater priority and resourcing for traffic policing, evidenced steps we’re confident would help tackle this menace. Scotland has already seen promising signs of reducing drink drive rates after lowering its limit. In this context, it is unacceptable for the Westminster government to maintain the highest drink drive limit in Europe.”