We Teach Driving Like Your Life Depends On It

Colorado has lessons for North America

By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, May 12th 2017

Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana use in 2014, has some advice for administrations that plan on loosening pot restrictions: Go slow.


Many new teen drivers view sleep as a waste of time.

Despite the fact that between nine and 10 hours is recommended for adolescents by the medical community, teens are getting not only much less than that, but poor-quality sleep.

A polysomnographic technologist told us that studies show teens who get only four hours of sleep have about the same crash rate as a drunk driver.
Sleep deprivation is a serious matter, especially for the young driver. Sleep before midnight is especially valuable and highly recommended for the youthful driver.
Sleep specialists promote being in bed by 10 p.m. and up at 7 a.m. for teens.

One of the reasons so many teens sleep well into the late morning on weekends is to make up for the sleep deficit experienced during the school week.
A lack of sleep is known to alter a person’s mood during the day.
Teen crashes are far more numerous during the evening hours, and many are attributed to drowsy driving.

Colorado is a leader in many facets of highway innovation.

It has instituted a bottleneck reduction program. It uses a diamond diverter interchange system, which replaces the much more expensive highway cloverleaf interchange employed by the majority of states and provinces.

(I will have more on this engineering option in a future column.)

Drones are being used by state authorities to monitor crash sites and relieve bottlenecks on the Colorado highway system.

Fifteen minutes of stopped traffic usually results in an hour delay.
This has prompted many highway authorities to employ innovative technology-based solutions.
Variable speed-limit signs are in evidence when weather conditions dictate a change in driving habits.

Flashing LED speed-zone signs show the real-time speed limit.
There are warning sounds, usually sirens in Colorado, that alert flaggers and highway work crews of vehicles approaching at a dangerously high speed.
This simple technology would be much appreciated by flaggers everywhere in Canada, not just in B.C.

Inset LED luminous pucks serve as lane markers for traffic on busy highways.
This technology allows only the vehicle drivers going forward to see the guiding lights.
The oncoming vehicle drivers are not distracted by them.

Snowplows do not remove them, since they are recessed.
Marijuana use has been legal for some time in Colorado, and state authorities all have the same advice for others considering the same move: Go slow.

There were all sorts of unfortunate surprises when the implementation phase for the legalization of marijuana began.
Government officials were shocked by the increased potency of marijuana, sometimes as much as 30 times the potency of the drug in the 1960s.

Enforcement agencies were not as well prepared to identify those who were driving while impaired by the drug.
Since then, advances have been made in detecting those impaired by marijuana and other drugs, both legal and illegal. Saliva testing is now available to determine a person’s fitness to drive.

Police forces have had to go through an intensive re-education process to provide consistent enforcement of state legislation in Colorado.

Autonomous vehicles, such as the Google car, were a hot topic at the Denver meeting.
Experts in the field believe we are about to see innovation similar to what happened in the airline industry.

Vehicles will be on automatic pilot when in a connectivity mode, but the pilot-driver will have to be ready to take over at certain times.

More to come.






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