Drug Czar phones it in; Barthwell up to her usual tricks

Walters isn’t even trying any more. Check out this standard obligatory news release: Drugged Driving as Common as Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Teens. He’ll get some play from the dumber media outlets, but I’m betting most of the majors will pass on it or question it.
Here are a couple of the startling discoveries:

… a 2005 survey reveals
that these teens say that cars are the second most popular place for smoking

Anyone who was ever a teen since cars were invented will not be surprised to learn that teens might use a car to do something that they can’t do at home. I’m only surprised that it’s the second most popular place.
Then, there’s this one…

A recent
study from a large shock trauma unit found that 19 percent of automobile crash
victims under age 18 tested positive for marijuana.

This is the best you’ve got?? That is so incredibly weak. This study doesn’t cover such basic details as how recently marijuana was smoked (could have been days), whether it caused impairment, or even… whether the one tested for marijuana was driving, or was a passenger or a pedestrian. I can give you this page of studies about marijuana and driving, and yet the Drug Czar can only come up with the old trauma unit garbage. Come on, John. Give me something hard.
Oh, and by the way, I decided to follow the link to theantidrug to check out the “New Driver’s Kit” (which I never found), but I got distracted by the section of Resources for Faith Leaders that had this gem:

Oftentimes, youth begin experimenting with marijuana, inhalants or ecstasy, believing that these drugs are harmless. In reality, these drugs are quite harmful and may kill – even on the first use.

I wonder why I’ve missed all the reports of marijuana smokers dropping dead the first time they use it. Oh, that’s right — because nobody has even died directly from smoking pot. Ever.
“bullet” I know we don’t have Andrea Barthwell to kick around much anymore, but I miss her, and I caught her lying (or at least misleading) again big time today. Even though it’s only peripheral to the drug war, it’s still a whopper and worth discussing.
Check out this Illinois news item:

November 28, 2005 – As we head into December, a month filled with holiday parties, a physician-led traffic safety group listing the 15 states that have the highest number of alcohol related traffic fatalities. Illinois is in that group.

It’s not a title to be proud of. Traffic safety groups, physicians and local authorities announced their annual list of the fatal 15 – the 15 deadliest states for impaired driving.

“The fatal 15 are states in which 41-percent or more of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related,” said Dr. Andrea Barthwell, co-chair, END.

Heading the list is Rhode Island at 50.6-percent, Wisconsin is number 7 at 45.2-percent and Illinois is right behind at 44.5-percent. It’s the second year Illinois made the list

OK, it gets good here. The fatal 15. Ooh, scary. But wait a second. How do they figure that again? “percent of all traffic fatalities” ??? Does that really mean anything?
So I looked up the statistics in the U.S. Department of Transportations Traffic Safety Report 2004. Sure enough. Alcohol-related traffic fatalities as a percentage of total traffic fatalities: Rhode Island at 50.6 percent, Illinois at 45.2 percent, and so forth, down to the lowest: Alaska at 31 percent. Problem is that this says nothing about the overall level of traffic fatalities in the state. So I compared Illinois (one of the fatal 15) with Alaska (the supposed safest in this model).
Alcohol-related traffic fatalities per 100,000 population:

  • Illinois: 4.75
  • Alaska: 4.73

The reason it’s so close? Alaska is a more dangerous state for traffic fatalities than Illinois. It turns out that Illinois is very safe state for traffic fatalities, so even the low amount of alcohol related fatalities show up as a high percentage of total fatalities. Fatal 15? Not a chance.
(Oh, and the definition of alcohol-related fatalities? It’s 0.01 BAC or higher. That’s right.)
So how did this “Fatal 15” crap get started?
We go to the website of the Coalition to End Needless Deaths (END)

On December 7, 2004 END conducted their kick-off event at the American Hospital Association Headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. At that event, END co-chairs Drs. Andrea Barthwell and Thomas Esposito announced a list of the fifteen deadliest states in the country for impaired driving. The Fatal Fifteen are states in which 44 percent or more of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related.

That’s right. Barthwell’s group invented it. And what is the purpose of END? From looking at their website, it appears to be a scam to bring in tax-free donations so that Andrea and Thomas can talk to the media once a year about the Fatal Fifteen.
It’s Barthwell. Business as usual.

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