MONDAY, March 19, 2018One-third of young adults in the United States have been in a vehicle with a driver impaired by alcohol or drugs, a new study finds. Riding with a marijuana-impaired driver was more common than riding with an alcohol-impaired driver, researchers found. “We’ve put a lot of emphasis on drinking and driving, but less effort on driving under the influence of marijuana. Maybe we need more of the latter,” said study lead author Kaigang Li. “Parents should be a role model by not driving while impaired, and real friends should stop their friends from driving after using substances — if using substances cannot be stopped,” said Li, an assistant professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University. For the study, the researchers analyzed 2013-2014 national survey data gathered from young adults who graduated high school within the past two years. Thirty-three percent reported riding with an impaired driver at least once in the previous year. Of those, 23 percent said they were with a pot-impaired driver, and 20 percent were with a booze-impaired driver. Six percent said they had ridden with a driver hampered by drugs other than marijuana, including ecstasy, amphetamines, opiates, cocaine/crack cocaine, glue or solvents, LSD or anabolic steroids. The findings were published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. “Emerging adults…  read on >

Driver fatigue causes many more car accidents in the United States than previously estimated, a new report suggests. The finding comes from an analysis of several months’ worth of video recordings taken of nearly 3,600 Americans while they were driving. During that time, participating drivers were involved in 700 accidents. All participants’ vehicles had been outfitted with a dash-cam video recorder. That allowed researchers to analyze each driver’s face in the minutes right before crashing. The researchers also had video of the road scene in front of the drivers. Together, the footage suggested that the percentage of accidents involving sleepy drivers was about eight times higher than current federal estimates. The finding was highlighted in a report released Thursday by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The foundation describes the investigation into drowsy driving as the most in-depth of its kind to date. “Driver drowsiness is a notoriously difficult problem to quantify because it typically doesn’t leave behind evidence that a police officer can observe after the fact when investigating a crash — in contrast to alcohol, for example,” said Brian Tefft, a senior research associate with the foundation in Washington, D.C. “Thus, we expected that our study would find that the problem was substantially bigger than the official statistics from the U.S. DOT [Department of Transportation] suggest,” he said. “But we were still surprised…  read on >

A full moon may spell extra danger for motorcyclists, a new study suggests. Momentary distractions are a common cause of crashes. Because a full moon can be a major distraction and occurs about 12 times a year, researchers decided to investigate whether full moons might be linked to more motorcyclists’ deaths. “Glancing at the full moon takes the motorcyclist’s gaze off the road, which could result in a loss of control,” explained study author Donald Redelmeier, a professor at the University of Toronto’s department of medicine. The average motorcycle ride is more dangerous than a drunk driver with no seatbelt traveling the same distance, he added. “Because of this, we recommend riders and drivers orient their attention, ignore distractions, and continuously monitor their dynamic surroundings,” he said. In the study, the researchers analyzed data on just over 13,000 fatal motorcycle crashes that occurred in the United States from 1975 to 2014. Of those, 4,494 occurred on 494 nights with a full moon and 8,535 on 988 nights without a full moon. That worked out to 9.1 fatal crashes on nights with a full moon and 8.6 fatal crashes on nights when the moon wasn’t full. For every two full moon nights, there was one additional fatal crash, according to the report, published Dec. 11 in the BMJ. “While these figures might seem low on the…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — One in 25 U.S. drivers reports having fallen asleep while driving during the past month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. The first step to prevention is recognizing the symptoms of driving drowsy, the agency says, offering this list of warning signs: Yawning or blinking a lot. Having difficulty remembering the past few miles driven. Missing your exit. Drifting from your lane. Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.

Motorcycle crashes are far costlier than car accidents, both in lives lost and in medical expenses, a new study shows. Canadian researchers found that the death rate from motorcycle crashes was five times greater than from car crashes, and the rate of severe injury was 10 times greater. That came with a six times greater cost to the health care system. Though the findings stem from an analysis of traffic accidents in the Canadian province of Ontario, the researchers said that similar patterns would likely be seen elsewhere. One reason: Motorcycles are inherently more risky because motorcycles lack the protections that cars provide. “It’s clear that it’s much more dangerous to ride a motorcycle than to ride in a car,” said lead researcher Dr. Daniel Pincus. But the study isn’t saying that motorcycles should be taken off the road. “A lot of people enjoy riding motorcycles, so we’re not saying the answer is to ban them from doing it,” said Pincus, who’s with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, in Toronto. Riding simply should be made safer, he said. Kara Macek, a spokesperson for the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), agreed. Universal helmet laws are one way, she said. In the United States, only about half of states require helmets for all motorcyclists, according to the GHSA. “Just telling people to wear helmets is not…  read on >