Archive for September, 2014

Stoned Drivers an Increasing Risk in West Palm Beach?

As Floridians consider a ballot measure this November to legalize medical marijuana, as some states legalize marijuana for recreational use, concerns about stoned driving are mounting. Drivers who operate their vehicles while under the influence of marijuana can present a hazard on the road. Unfortunately, regulating stoned driving is an inexact science and states are having difficulty crafting laws that work effectively to keep unsafe motorists off the roads. 

Personal injury lawyers in West Palm Beach know that marijuana users have delayed reaction time and impaired judgment that can increase the likelihood of a collision. Finding a way to keep people from driving stoned needs to be a top policy goal to protect motorists and pedestrians, especially if Florida’s ballot measure passes. Drivers also need to understand the dangers of driving while stoned before they use medical or recreational cannabis.

Stoned Driving Problems Plague Marijuana Legalization Movement

The ABA Journal indicates that it is “imperfect science” to craft laws for stoned driving. In Colorado and Washington where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, someone is considered to be driving while impaired if he has more than 5 nanograms of active THC in his blood stream. In Oregon where marijuana legalization is on the ballot, however, there is no THC limit as part of the proposed legalization and law enforcement officers are given discretion to determine if a motorist is too stoned to drive.

There is criticism about the use of THC levels to determine if someone is impaired. A study conducted in Britain found that levels of THC peak around 10 minutes after someone has smoked cannabis, but users experience the highest levels of euphoria around half an hour after consuming the drug. Further, a forensic lab expert has indicated that the THC concentration in the blood does not directly correlate to the effects of marijuana, and scientists haven’t actually established a connection between the levels of THC in the blood and the levels of driving impairment.

While we may not know exactly what THC level makes someone too stoned to drive, the FDL Reporter does have some facts that have been established about marijuana use. For example:

  • Marijuana users are able to successfully complete simply tasks but brain imaging studies show that they must use more of their brain to do those tasks while stoned as compared with when they are sober.
  • Marijuana users are not as able to multi-task as someone who has not consumed cannabis.
  • Reaction times are slower for someone who has used cannabis.
  • The peripheral vision of someone who has used marijuana is decreased.
  • After the legalization of marijuana in Washington, nearly 25 percent more motorists tested positive for the drug as compared with before legalization.
  • The share of drivers involved in deadly motorcycle accidents in Colorado who tested positive for THC more than doubled between 1994 and 2011.

It is clear that marijuana users are less equipped to respond if something sudden happens on the road, like a pedestrian stepping in front of the car. These drivers present a danger to themselves and to others and states need to find a way to effectively regulate stoned driving.

Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach, FL can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation. 

Archive for September, 2014

A Safer Route for West Palm Beach Drivers

The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (F.I.A.) is the governing body of motor sports and the umbrella association of national road car associations throughout the world. Recently, two F.I.A. officials were nearly killed when a truck driver rammed into their rental car, which was parked on the shoulder of a road with a flat tire. The officials spotted the truck and were able to jump back off the road before the car was hit. As the New York Times reports, the incident underscored the F.I.A. official’s concern about the pressing need for safety education programs for the driving public. 

According to the New York Times, the F.I.A. “compares the problems caused by poor driving to disease epidemics.” Worldwide, motor vehicle collisions cause 1.3 million deaths and 50 million injuries annually. Things are getting worse, and by 2020, two million people will die across the globe as a result of traffic collisions. The F.I.A. has prepared the 10 Golden Rules, which drivers can follow to help reduce the risk of hurting themselves and others in a collision. West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer know that if every driver would make a commitment to following best practices for safety, many motor vehicle fatalities could be prevented in Florida and across the United States.

The F.I.A’s 10 Rules for Road Safety

The F.I.A. asks drivers to pledge to:

  • Buckle up.
  • Respect the rules of the road. The rules of the road are there to protect everyone. If a driver fails to follow the rules, victims may be able to obtain compensation without specifically proving the motorist was unreasonably careless.
  • Check the tires. Worn tire treads or inadequate tire pressure can cause a vehicle to go out of control.
  • Drive sober. A person with a blood-alcohol concentration of just .02 percent is already slightly impaired and is a worse driver than someone who has not consumed any alcoholic beverages. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) that around 10,000 people die every single year because of impaired driving. In Florida, 697 people died in 2012 due to drunk drivers according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
  • Pay attention to the road. Distracted driving is rapidly becoming a leading cause of motor vehicle collisions. reports that 3,328 people in the U.S. lost their lives in distracted driving collisions in 2012 alone.
  • Stop when tired. Drowsy driving is also considered to be just as dangerous as impaired driving, as a fatigued driver has delayed reaction time, slower reflexes, impaired judgment and is in danger of falling asleep.
  • Wear a bicycle helmet when appropriate to protect the head.
  • Br courteous and considerate of other drivers. Road rage and aggression are a leading cause of motor vehicle collisions.

Drivers need to follow these important rules in order to help make the roads safer for everyone.

Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach, FL can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation.