Not everyone is fit to pilot a vehicle, sober or not. Some people lack the motor skills, cognitive performance or other functional attributes required for safe vehicle piloting. Legal marijuana poses additional challenges for keeping our roads safe while self driving cars offer a technological safety solution!
The discussion about intoxicated drivers needs to extend into a bigger discussion about who is fit to be driving in the first place. Some intoxicated experienced drivers have better driving safety and vehicle control than new drivers who are sober. Under no circumstances should anyone be piloting a vehicle or using heavy machinery while intoxicated!
I am only pointing that a highly skilled driver who is half awake with one eye closed is potentially able to pilot a vehicle better than a newbie inexperience driver who sober. If you do not believe me, come visit puget sound and observe our fusion of all sorts of drivers.
The different driving skill levels have not been addressed by the state. To do so gets into a slippery slope discussion about human intelligence levels. The sad reality is that most people are not super gifted vehicle pilots, even some intellectually brilliant people are terrible at driving! The only fair way to rank drivers is in a driving simulator test, something that states claim they have neither the funding or resources to perform.
As states moves to legalize marijuana, the technology for law enforcement to test intoxicated drives is still limited. Alcohol breathalyzers work on a well established fuel cell measuring technique. Testing for THC in the breath is far more techologically challenging.
Legality of Marijuana
Today Marijuana is legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State and the District of Columbia. Fives more states, Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada have ballot initiatives to legalize recreation marijuana. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota are states where recreational legalization initiatives are still being developed, a first step towards legalization. If all of these states legalize marijuana the result political pressure will come down on the DEA to reclassify marijuana. Today the Federal Legal Schedule 1 is applied to marijuana like heroin! The DEA rejected appeals in August of 2016 to decriminalize pot, maintaining that is has no useful medical benefits. Science shows that as a medicine marijuana and its extracts are very useful.
People, Cannabis & Cars
For thousands of years people have been using cannabis. Driving cars is a relatively new phenomenon by comparison. When a person consumes marijuana it stays in their blood stream for weeks, giving on the fly of high sensitivity false positives.
Say for instance someone gets home from work on Friday night and smokes a vaporizer hit of cannabinoids. Then when that same person is driving home from work on the following Monday night they get pulled over. Chemically testing their urine, blood or other body fluids for THC will show a positive test result even though the person ingested the cannabinoids 2 days previously and was not piloting their vehicle intoxicated. This makes field testing for cannabis intoxication far more complicated than testing for blood alcohol. Added to the complication, device makers that build filed sobriety testing tools for law enforcement have not even been able to work with cannabis until recently. As a result the technological development of cannabis testing tools is decades behind blood alcohol field test equipment applied technology.
Driving is a pseudo luxury and one that has become essential to functioning in America due to our low density infrastructure; i.e. the huge distance between peoples homes and where they work! This configuration means that a lot of people are now dependent on private vehicles for commuting! The bus systems in many parts of America are far too slow to be viable alternatives to driving.
The issue of who is fit to drive contrasting against self driving car technologies as a law to reduce vehicle fatalities to zero percent by the year 2030 is rolled out in Washington State. We must use the best available science when making laws even though that does not have a well establish history in lawmaking. Today the internet is democritizing access to information about everything, going a long way towards the changing ideologies that caused marijuana to already become a legal recreational drug in 4 US states. If you read the Project Zero materials online, you will understand why we need to improve on many aspects of transportation safety!
We need better tools for law enforcement to test drivers for their fitness in real time. Driving sleepy is as dangerous as driving intoxicated. When you operate a vehicle you should be wide awake, alert, aware, clear minded and prudent at making safe driving choice. Your life and the lives of everyone else in traffic depends on your paying attention! Intoxication, lack of sleep, phone distractions and other things that reduce driver attention are all safety hazards in traffic.
To reduce vehicle fatalities and accidents we as a society need to do far more than just giving law enforcement better intoxicant testing tools. We need to enable the states to do simulator testing of all drivers to make sure that everyone piloting a vehicle is fit to be doing so; including the development of a pop up tent simulator that the police could deploy on the fly to test a driver who has been pulled over on suspicion of intoxication; kind of like walking the line but in our smartphone LED thin screen enhanced tech era where a pop up driving simulation testing tent is actually within the realm of technological possibilities. No one has developed anything like this to my knowledge, but it exists as yet another one of my wild business ideas. If you want to partner with me, please let me know in the comments section below!
Self Driving Cars
Today autopilot technologies are being developed at a feverish pace by all the major automakers, many tech companies like Google, Intel and Nvidia, and wireless network technology companies Qualcomm, Verizon and AT&T! The issue of unfit or intoxicated drivers will be addressed with self driving cars that are able to safely pilot themselves without driver input, aside from the verbal declaration of desired destination that the driver must tell the auto piloting car so that the computer can develop a route pattern to execute the request. As long as the person is able to tell their self driving car where to take them the technology will keep these people from hurting others. Elderly people with impaired sensory perception and motor skills with regain the freedom of driving with self driving cars. People that are stoned, tired or simply people who want to read a book on their commute, all of these people and everyone will be helped by self driving car technology. Computers drive with greater fuel economy than people and that translates into lowering emissions and improving air quality, while also improving safety! With better technology everything becomes better!
Exporting Harmful Ideas
America pioneered the idea of a national highway system, a system that went on to create systemic economic changes all around the world. We are exporting harm with the ideology of tailpipes for everyone and air quality is suffering all around the world as a consequence. The explosive growth in the popularity of SUV's marked a wasteful ideological change exacerbating this problem. People care more about safety than fuel economy, but the Tesla Model S proved that clean electric zero emission vehicles are far better than anything else. The clean technologies being commercialized today will spawn many generations of electric vehicles from all the automakers. By the year 2021, every major automakers will be produced electric vehicles inspired by the Tesla Model S!
To understand why gasoline engines won out over electric motors when cars were first introduced more than 100 years ago, we have to look no further than the energy density of gasoline when compared to lithium ion batteries. The battery in the Tesla Model S stores 85kWh of power in a 2000lb pack unslung beneath the cabin, creating amazing driving dynamics in the Model S. The Tesla Model S battery is fluffy by comparison to energy dense gasoline which yields 12,000 watt hours per kilogram. The Model S battery can be recharged while gasoline is a one way trip to pollution, and when you take that into account, the 1000 recharge cycles of the Model S battery Lithium Ion has a net lifetime energy storage capacity of ~600,000 watt hour per kilogram. Thats 50x better than the one way looser energy cycle of gasoline! Plus electric vehicles have zero tail pipe emissions, improving air quality where they are operated. Even when charged with coal power, electric vehicles are still cleaner than burning gasoline in a tail pipe vehicle.
Moving Beyond Burning Oil + Climate Change & Air Pollution
Today oil is consumed on scale that is a true modern marvel. The economies of the Middle East and funding to Isis have never been greater than those streams of money created by international oil markets. Today however Saudi Arabia is almost bankrupt because of sustained low $30 per barrel oil prices, something American oil companies are able to weather because of precision horizontal drilling that yields oil at only $19 per barrel. This controversial fracking may produce cheap oil but there is a high cost to these low prices to the water table, ground water quality and public health!
Fracking Improvements Required
Today fracking is wreaking havoc on ground water, polluting ground water on a scale never previously seen before. Land slides, subduction, sink holes and water pollution, there is a better way. New eco-friendly fracking technology uses non-toxic hydraulic fracturing technique with steam and high pressure water jets, water jet technology able to cut through thick rock materials with modern pumps generating more than 40,000 PSI. Aware of the ground water problems, oil companies are developing new eco-friendly techniques that can produce cheaper oil and abundant natural gas without any of the problems of classical fracking chemical techniques. High pressure water and steam also have the ability to recharge aquifers, the clean fracking technology can actually be used as an ecological restoration technique in oil wells that were previously contaminated with older generation fracking chemicals.
Cheap oil causes people to make irrational vehicle choices, picking inefficient low efficiency vehicles because cheap gas means lower operating costs. These same people got caught with their pants down the last time oil climbed from $30 per barrel to over $120 per barrel between 2004 and 2008, gasoline prices surged in America to over $4 per gallon in that period. In Europe gasoline has healthcare taxes, emissions taxes and other taxes that result in gasoline that costs $8 per gallon in the UK. I voted for carbon emission taxes on the latest political ballot and so did my amazing creative beautiful lovely Meg. She agrees with me that carbon is a stupid way to make energy because it poisons the atmosphere, making air qualifier worse for everyone, including the people who work in the carbon energy sectors. No one wants to breath pollution!
Migrating European Tax Ethics
In Europe engines are taxed based on their size or displacement in liters or cubic inches. Vehicles in other parts of the world are taxed based on their carbon emission per kilometer, measures in grams of carbon per km. Weight base fees are also common in other countries. We can see the trajectory of how US law will change with carbon taxes, engine taxes and vehicle weight taxes in the future. Today low oil prices may be encouraging more SUV buying, in the future those people who invested in non electric SUV's are going to be taxed more as a result of their inefficient vehicle choices. Likewise gas prices will not stay down forever, oil is a finite resource being rapidly depleted. It is estimated that society will need 3x more energy to give all people a modern lifestyle by the year 2050.
Conserving Oil for Plastic
Oil can be turned into more than 1 million other higher value products like plastics, polymers, carbon fiber, battery eletrolytes, adhesives, paints, dye, drugs, explosives, fertilizer, consumer electronics, insulators, lubricants, high performance fibers and fabric, synthetic rope that cannot rust, carbon nano-tube ribbon that is 10,000x stronger than carbon-fiber. The list goes on, you can literally turn a barrel of oil into $700 worth petrochemicals. Taking this into account, it makes absolutely no logical sense at all to be selling the oil as a fuel for $30 per barrel. The only way to account for his is through the humongous market for gasoline and diesel fuels all around the world. Oil is the worlds largest traded commodity because its fuel derivatives are used to power all commercial aircraft, 99.97% of passenger vehicles, almost all mining and agriculture vehicles, commercial trucks, you name it, things with engines run on oil fuel derivatives. The scale of oil production for fuel use makes it an economic chemical resource base stock for all of the millions of petrochemical products! In the future when oil resources are more constrained, carbon taxes will combine to divert the oil to higher value added applications. As a result I believe that oil companies will become more profitable in the future!
Posted by Aaron Kenneth Schwarz