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National Weed Day was April 20th, and the American Property Casualty Insurers Association (APCIA) warned drivers to be extra cautious this weekend. The JAMA Internal Medicine says that traffic fatalities are 12% more likely to occur that day after 4:20 p.m. compared to the number of incidents during the same period for the previous week.

Unlike alcohol, which causes drivers to be more aggressive, drive faster and make frequent lane changes, drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to drive more slowly and allow greater following distances between vehicles. But their reaction time to a sudden incident such as someone running a red light or cutting them off is significantly slower.

“Like with any impairment, driving high is reckless and illegal every day of the year. Evidence shows that marijuana use can impair critical abilities necessary for safe driving such as judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. Driving under the influence of marijuana jeopardizes everyone’s safety on the roads.”

 

– Eileen Gilligan, AVP of Public Affairs for APCIA

Determining Impairment

Measuring whether or not a driver is impaired by marijuana or any other substance besides alcohol is difficult to verify without a blood test, despite the use of field sobriety tests, but a new app is showing much promise. A new mobile app the ‘Druid App’ can be used on a smartphone or tablet and can be administered roadside.

“The app measures cognitive impairment through four tasks.”

 

– Michael Milburn, Druid App creator

The App was developed after carefully examining the literature on driver impairment and years of studying cognitive impairment. The driver’s attention is divided during the tasks, forcing him or her to do something else at the same time. Drivers multi-task all of the time, usually successfully, but the app looks at reaction time, eye-hand coordination, and tests balance by having the user stand on one leg, much like the common sobriety test.

“Disrupted balance is indicative of impairment.”

 

– Michael Milburn

The Druid app can also determine impairment over a period of time. Cannabis users may ingest it through an edible such as a cookie or brownie, and not immediately feel its effects. The Druid app allows drivers to establish a baseline test without impairment and then check their reaction time through the app after using or ingesting cannabis.

The app generates a score between 0-100. The higher the score, the more impaired the individual is. A score of 58 on the Druid app indicates legal impairment. Law enforcement in several states is currently testing the app’s efficacy with positive results.

Beyond Impaired Driving

The app can be used for other types of testing too, such as assessing concussions for athletes, evaluating aging adults to check their reaction time for driving or determining whether commercial drivers are impaired in some way.

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