The New DUI

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Forget driving while distracted! The FDA informs us that sleep aid users who fill some 55 million prescriptions annually may be taking double the needed dose, calling out Lunestra prescribing practices in particular as being 2x or more than needed. The hazard: next-day “impairment to driving skills, memory, and coordination.” Talk about a wake-up call!

No Texting Behind the Wheel, But Smartphone Maps Are OK

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California’s Court of Appeals this week gave the OK to drivers to look at a map on a digital device while driving. That’s despite statewide bans on holding one to talk or text, say. The reasoning? “Based on the statute’s language, its legislative history, and subsequent legislative enactments, we conclude that the statute means what it says—it prohibits a driver only from holding a wireless telephone while conversing on it.”

Driving While Distracted: The Latter-Day DUI?

NTSA distracted driving by the numbers coverThe US Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued guidelines concerning electronic devices [pdf] to car manufacturers in order to minimize the use of attention-sapping gadgets and other in-cabin causes of motorist distraction. Backed by a new study (and data helpfully packaged as an inaugural Safety in Numbers newsletter), the guidelines are voluntary but nevertheless mark another step by DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to increase road safety on US roadways. Continue reading

Handheld Driver Distractions Prove Irrestible, CDC Survey Finds

Curb It Click It mobile phone signIf you have noticed while passing auto traffic that an increasing number of drivers are focusing on their mobile device instead of the road, the Centers for Disease Control wants you to know that you’re not mistaken. According to surveys in 2011, 31% of drivers in the United States reported reading or sending a text or e-mail message while driving. About one-fifth of them report doing so on a frequent basis. Given that only 69% of respondents reported talking while driving, one can assume either some serious under-reporting, or else a sample that’s hardly representative of Southern California drivers. Continue reading