Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: Stoned in Charge

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  • John Elijah,

    clever headline

    Hawkes Bay • Since Oct 2013 • 5 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    With impairment tests, I would think that it’s hard to get a fair baseline – some people are simply not very good at standing on one leg, for instance. Most old people struggle with it. But presumably the point is to use the test as a filter to then administer actual chemical tests.

    I prefer impairment tests that are relevant to driving, though. I don’t ever stand on one leg when driving. Reaction time, and maybe distance/speed perception would be better ones. Can they catch a ball? But again, there’s a lot of people who suck at that sober.

    It's pretty clear it impairs you. The question is, as you say, how much?

    it might be that the type of person who crashes is the type of person who has cannabis in their system. I’m very careful not to mix correlation with causation.

    It’s a complex question indeed. I don’t know how they could be separated. Good statistical analysis of crashes is probably the best we’ll ever get, although the jump from impairment to higher chances of crashing is highly plausible. The only counterbalancing force is that people who are cautious can take their impairment into account. So the statistical question isn’t “can they drive safely?”, it’s “do they?”. In the case of alcohol, it’s pretty clear the answer is no.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Just for fun:

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • Jackson James Wood,

    New Zealand • Since May 2011 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to BenWilson,

    I prefer impairment tests that are relevant to driving, though...
    Reaction time, and maybe distance/speed perception would be better ones. Can they catch a ball? But again, there’s a lot of people who suck at that sober.

    If the tests are relevant to driving, is it possible that people who suck at that sober shouldn't be driving even when sober?

    I suspect driver skill/ reaction times are the sort of things that affect risk homeostasis. When someone thinks they have better reactions (and even when they're right) then the risks they take (like following more closely, or going faster) might be enough to make them less safe than someone with worse reactions who is more cautious.

    An argument could be made that better reactions do not a safer driver guarantee.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Stephen R,

    If the tests are relevant to driving, is it possible that people who suck at that sober shouldn’t be driving even when sober?

    That's always been the rub. You couldn't make the test too hard, if it was the decider, people would be failing it left right and center. But it's just a filter, aa way of narrowing down to who to do a chemical test on. For that purpose, it sounds efficacious, although still a hell of a lot slower than getting me to say my name into an alcohol sensor. The manpower requirement would be huge.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    New Zealand’s head of road policing, Superintendent Carey Griffiths, says, while drink driving remains the priority, next year will see further attention given to drug-impaired driver testing, including the best approach to take.

    “My preference based on what I’ve seen and know so far is a saliva-based testing regime similar to what’s conducted in many of the Australian jurisdictions, because there is an element of general deterrence to that.”

    Gah. What he's really saying is "Sure, it doesn't work as a meaningful test of impairment, but it might put people off smoking cannabis altogether."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Stephen R,

    An argument could be made that better reactions do not a safer driver guarantee

    I remember a long, long time watching a docu on stoned driving in Adelaide. They ran drivers through a simulation both stoned and sober. They found that on average the stoned drivers had slower reaction times but as if they (either consciously or or more likely sub-consciously) were aware of it they also drove comparatively slower. They ended up being about equivalently safe to their sober driving, slower to react but with more time to cover this up.

    This would make sense to me that the brain would be running a constant feedback check and adjust accordingly. People with lightning fast reactions are probably just as dangerous as they simply factor this into their driving.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to bmk,

    I remember a long, long time watching a docu on stoned driving in Adelaide. They ran drivers through a simulation both stoned and sober. They found that on average the stoned drivers had slower reaction times but as if they (either consciously or or more likely sub-consciously) were aware of it they also drove comparatively slower.

    That was the view of Mark Kleiman when I interviewed him. He said the danger period was 2-3 hours later, when when pot smokers were meaningfully impaired, but weren't aware of it. Also, as Damian said, when both alcohol and cannabis were in the mix.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22747 posts Report Reply

  • bmk, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Also, as Damian said, when both alcohol and cannabis were in the mix.

    Yep, that's a bad combo.

    Also could totally see how the 2-3 hours later thing would be dangerous.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Stephen R,

    If the tests are relevant to driving, is it possible that people who suck at that sober shouldn’t be driving even when sober?

    Indeed. Also the Sausage argument. I wonder if the correlation of the number accident involving alcohol, or drugs for that matter, is more to do with the fact that so many people drink and drive, because we are a nation of drinkers lets face it. Many people I know who say they are against drinking and driving actually still do it, its just that they drink less when driving plus the fact that they don’t go out much.
    I drive a lot 1000+ Ks a week sometimes and the biggest problem I see on the roads is just bad, inattentive and selfish driving, not using mirrors (apart from applying make-up or just checking how good you look) and that old chestnut “I have the right of way so fk you”

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Passed the surprize work place drug & alcohol test last Friday morning.

    I had a couple of Twisted Hop Pilsners the night before, alas two co-workers had a joint on the previous weekend .

    These guys passed surprize drug tests about 6 months ago and work well.

    I don't want to work where guys are under the influence and testing a corpse is too late, but firing guys for what happened last weekend is just wrong (accepting that heavy users are a problem).

    Any suggestions on what a safe drug use testing regime would look like?

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Just thinking,

    firing guys for what happened last weekend is just wrong

    Well thats what some people see as the solution to a miniscule problem. But inflate it by various means and Hey presto a ready made villian!

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1881 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    In Australian states such as Victoria and Queensland, they’ve moved away from random testing towards an intelligence-based approach, pinpointing neighbourhoods and locations where drug use is more likely.

    This seems a little too much like ‘stop and search’ to me. ‘We’ll concentrate on the poor areas cos there’s more stoners there, and they’re less likely to be as well-connected as those stoned kids in Epsom or students’.

    It’s really going to have to come back to good investigative Police work

    And this. How much resource (person-hours) is going to be put into grinding out ‘good’ results for fairly minor cases? And how much of that is going to be wasted if the extra couple of hours that weren’t put in (because of resource overstretch) results in cases getting thrown out on a technicality?

    Not suggesting that they should or shouldn’t either way, just that this has the potential to turn into a clusterfuck.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Many people I know who say they are against drinking and driving actually still do it, its just that they drink less when driving plus the fact that they don’t go out much.

    I drive a lot 1000+ Ks a week sometimes and the biggest problem I see on the roads is just bad, inattentive and selfish driving, not using mirrors (apart from applying make-up or just checking how good you look) and that old chestnut “I have the right of way so fk you”

    Yes, to both these factors. Bad driving is defined by people who are inattentive, careless, or overly confident and not aware of their limits and the cars' behaviour on the road. Rarely is bad driving people who are pushing those limits deliberately.

    Alcohol and cannabis are huge impairments, and when you overlay them on any driver the outcomes are going to be worse.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Fascinating. So, can we find out more about this stoned driving legislative reform in the States? And is there any uniform measure of intoxication that can be cited in this context? How do they tackle it in other jurisdictions where cannabis has been decriminalised? What about other health and safety issues?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 563 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    And what about the severity of the accidents in which stoned drivers are involved? Are we talking injury? If so, what kind? Were there any fatalities? How do long-time jurisdictions take care of prevention education in this context?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 563 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to George Darroch,

    Alcohol and cannabis are huge impairments, and when you overlay them on any driver the outcomes are going to be worse.

    Unless, that is, your main aim is to reduce the number of bad drivers on the road and are prepared to accept collateral damage. (playing the fool of course)
    I think we could increase the depth of driver education and testing and improve the overall standard of competence, our driving licences are as easy to get as a cold in this country.
    Of course alcohol and drugs impair all kinds of things, that's why we do it, add to that incompetent drivers and you have the situation we find ourselves in now.

    And what about the severity of the accidents in which stoned drivers are involved? Are we talking injury?

    Shouldn't really be factored in, an accident is always due to somebody not paying attention or pushing the limits of either their skill or the design capability of their vehicle. I have to disagree with George...

    Rarely is bad driving people who are pushing those limits deliberately.

    Unfortunately this is more often than not the case (I do know his point was about deliberately taking drugs or drinking alcohol but even they don't say "I'm going to get out of it so I can have a car accident"
    Police are doing something about it though, they are repainting their cars and reducing their tolerance The reduced tolerance to over limit drivers, reduced from 10% to 5% seems to be working but I have to question its legality. At present the accuracy of speedometers for a vehicle are "within 10%" so it could be an interesting case if you could argue that your "speedo" said 100 but the cops say 110, what would be the outcome of that?.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I think we could increase the depth of driver education and testing and improve the overall standard of competence, our driving licences are as easy to get as a cold in this country.

    The increased difficulty of license tests is starting to have a marked impact on both pass rates and attempts. It's the millions of New Zealanders who gained their licenses in previous decades and have never since been tested on their abilities that I'm more concerned about. Is there another dangerous machine that you would you put people in charge of without ever reviewing their ability to use it?

    I'm glad we've taken down the legal blood alcohol concentration since this article was written. I think we're starting to move to a sensible arrangement, slowly. Attitudes have changed.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    At present the accuracy of speedometers for a vehicle are "within 10%" so it could be an interesting case if you could argue that your "speedo" said 100 but the cops say 110, what would be the outcome of that?.

    I quite like those signs that say "you're now doing x km/h" when you drive past them. I use them to estimate the difference between the speedo and my actual speed. Of course, you almost never see them in 100km zones, but I did run into one in a 70 zone a few weeks back which told me that my speedo is showing high at that speed (i.e. when my speedo says 70, I'm only doing 67-68).

    Getting new tires can change your speedo reading, and getting tires of a different size (as a friend did on their 4wd) can drastically change it, so being able to calibrate is very useful.

    I also remember seeing a letter to the Dom Post complaining that the writer got a ticket for doing 111 in a 100 zone, when their speedo only said 107... my sympathy was limited.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Gah. What he's really saying is "Sure, it doesn't work as a meaningful test of impairment, but it might put people off smoking cannabis altogether."

    No, I think what he's really saying is that having roadside testing might discourage stoned driving, not getting stoned. Random roadside testing for alcohol has definitely had an impact on drink driving - not so much on drinking per se.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Speedometers are normally calibrated/designed to overread - this is apparently required in AU and the EU.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to George Darroch,

    It’s the millions of New Zealanders who gained their licenses in previous decades and have never since been tested on their abilities that I’m more concerned about.

    I think refresher testing is not a bad idea, but accident statistics suggest that there's not going to be much bang for your buck on the older demographics, who have by far the lowest accident rates already. It's not really the knowing of the law that's the issue in bad driving. It's the obeying it, including the hard-to-enforce ones like following distances, and taking poor conditions into account. And also the general improvement in overall road sense that steadily builds from endless repetition, close shaves, minor accidents.

    Is there another dangerous machine that you would you put people in charge of without ever reviewing their ability to use it?

    Unfortunately, yes. There are currently no laws requiring licensing of any kind to drive extremely powerful small boats, nor any manditory seaworthiness testing for the boats, and there's very little by way of DIC controls. And people die frequently as a result. Which is not an argument not to improve road safety, but is a strong one for improvement of sea safety regulations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Speedometers are normally calibrated/designed to overread – this is apparently required in AU and the EU.

    It's one of the cool things about GPS. You can test your speedo quite easily. I have an app that hassles me if I'm going over 100km/h on my phone. It's interesting to try to drive to that - it gets really, really irritating if you set it to actually go off on 100km/h, and then want to drive at 100km/h. It goes off half the time. The only way to avoid being nagged by it is to go 95 on average. Or set it to 105. Quite instructive about what does actually happen with your speed on average - we don't micromanage it, on the whole, nor should we.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10631 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to BenWilson,

    I have an app that hassles me if I'm going over 100km/h on my phone.

    Is that an iPhone app by any chance? And if so, what is it called?

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

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