Pubdate: Fri, 12 May 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Steve Wallace
Column: Behind the Wheel
Page: F1


I recently attended the regional Driving Schools Association of the
Americas conference in Denver, Colorado. Here are some of the things
we talked about:

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

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

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.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver 
Island. He is a former vice-president of the Driving Schools Association 
of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba 
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