The Great Marijuana Myth: Is Driving High Dangerous?

Last week, the British Medical Journal published a study about the effects of smoking cannabis (aka marijuana, pot, weed, Mary Jane) on driving ability. Researchers at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada, analyzed 9 prior studies and concluded that — contrary to most pot smokers’ beliefs — driving high leads to a higher risk of car accidents.

Now, before we go any further, let’s address the elephant in the room: pot is illegal in most states. But (as we know) people smoke it regardless of what the law says. However, no matter what folks tell you, driving under the influence of any controlled substance is illegal and dangerous.

We could write endlessly about reckless driving — drinking, using a cellphone, and even driving tired all put you and others at risk — but for our purposes today, let’s focus on Dalhousie’s study and the specific dangers of smoking pot and driving.

Weed and driving effects

Turns out, drivers who smoke marijuana within a few hours of driving are almost twice as likely to get into an accident as sober drivers. And though the accident stats aren’t as bad as they are for drinking and driving, the risk is palpable.

While alcohol is still the most common accident-inducing substance, a recent survey quoted on the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s Web site found that 6.8 percent of drivers who were involved in accidents — most of whom were under 35 — tested positive for THC (the chemical found in marijuana).

Smoking weed and driving laws

Unlike testing for alcohol levels, researchers and law enforcement officials have not yet determined how to accurately test for levels of marijuana intoxication. Many states, however, have begun to take a hard line on this public safety issue and police officers are now being trained to detect signs of marijuana intoxication. And make no mistake about it: driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs — including legal-use marijuana — is illegal in all states.

Get a breakdown of drugged driving laws here.

The great marijuana myth

It’s possible you’ve heard a pot aficionado state:  “I’m a better driver when I’m stoned.” Not true. A major issue with drugged driving is that when you’re high (well, not you specifically, we know you’d never do that), you don’t always realize that your judgment is impaired. This is especially true for teenagers who are already at-risk drivers. Couple this with a few hits of ganja, and the buzz can become, well, killer.

Though it varies by person, it generally takes at least 3–4 hours to come down from a high. No amount of strong coffee or greasy food is going to sober you up faster.

Drinking and driving vs. smoking weed and driving

Most of us grew up hearing “don’t drink and drive,” but not nearly as much effort was put into preventing the combination of smoking pot and driving. Yet marijuana affects reaction time, spatial sense, and perception — all of which are crucial to safe driving. So when a person is driving high, they may end up following another car too closely (and brake too late), make unsafe turns, or misjudge road hazards.

RELATED: The Drunk-Driving Debate: .05 versus .08

The fact remains: weed and driving don’t mix

In the coming years, we may see a move toward the legalization of pot. But no matter where you stand on the issue — “a need for weed” or “not for pot” — we should all be on the same page when it comes to designating a driver who abstains from ALL mind-altering substances (legal or not).

If you’re into graphs and footnotes, you can read the whole British Medical Journal study here.

Related links

Driving on drugs: stats and facts
National Institute of Drug Abuse article on drugged driving
National Institute of Drug Abuse research report on marijuana abuse
CNN reports marijuana nearly doubles the risk of collisions
Dalhousie University report

Safeguard Your Heart with Valentines Day Insurance

Our recent post on the many merits of (fictional) Super Bowl insurance got us thinking: What other sorts of events might be ideal candidates for a tailor-made insurance product?

The first to leap to mind: St. Valentines Day!

After all, few days have as much riding on them as Valentines Day. It can be a make-or-break for many relationships, with the right moves earning eternal adoration — and the wrong spelling almost-certain doom for even the most ardent paramour.

But what if you could insure yourself against all things unromantic on Valentines Day 2012?* That would be a good investment whatever the cost, wouldn’t it? Well, as your insurance experts, we took a few minutes to figure out what Valentines insurance might look like if it did exist, which, of course, it doesn’t (sort of like Cupid).

What would Valentines Day insurance cover?

In a perfect world, Valentines Day insurance would cover you against a wide range of potential disasters, including the big one — that of a broken heart. Valentines Day insurance would be flexible, allowing you to customize your policy to guard against a veritable bouquet of potential romantic miscues. Such as …

Forgot Valentines Day?

Nobody wants to admit it, but we’ve probably all let a Valentine or 2 slip our minds right up to the last minute — or just been plain out of Valentines Day ideas. Generally, the response is to call up a florist and hope for lightning-quick delivery while you head out to pick up a heart-shaped box of chocolates and a bottle of bubbly. But with forget-me-not coverage, those days are over!

Forget-me-not coverage would provide you with automatic delivery of your choice of classic ways to say “I love you” to your sweetie. Enter a delivery time and address and kick back and relax, knowing your first move of the big day is under wraps.

Committed a Valentine foul?

Valentine coverage would protect you against the worst of all losses: lost love.

Granted, nobody can ensure your love stands the test of time … but Valentine insurance could help smooth things over in the aftermath. With ace romance writers penning customized love letters in the clouds or rose petals, this coverage could help you get back in your love’s good graces

Made a minor Valentine faux pas?

Of course, not all Valentine mishaps are so dire. Sometimes the big day comes too early in the relationship for stakes to be all that high. Or the problems are of a much milder nature, like burning the homemade pasta or picking the wrong entrée at that fancy French place.

For such low-stakes mistakes, Valentine insurance would provide affordable and flexible coverage you could customize on the fly.

Burn the pasta? No problem. Get expedited delivery of a replacement dinner you can still claim as Mom’s own recipe. Bought a nice Burgundy only to find it was corked? Don’t worry — a replacement will be in your hands in minutes.

Lovelorn and lonely?

Of course, not everybody’s lucky enough to have a babe or stud handy for the big day. Don’t panic — Valentines Day insurance wouldn’t cater only to the hooked-up. In fact, it could include a lonely bloom option, ensuring you a posse of adamantly anti-Valentine party people ready to paint the town … well, not red, but some color … with you.

Optional V-Day mishap coverages

Of course, there’s no way to predict all the catastrophes V-Day can bring. With that in mind, here’s a list of miscellaneous mishaps Valentine insurance could also protect you from:

  • The overspend (spending way too much on a gift your valentine doesn’t like)
  • V-Day blind date (need we say more?)
  • Personal hygiene malfunction (having food stuck in your teeth at a fancy dinner)
  • Wardrobe anxiety (not knowing what to wear)
  • Rom-Com bomb (having to endure a romantic comedy, including anything involving Tom Hanks and/or Meg Ryan)
  • Musical torture (the risk of hearing Kenny G)
  • Isolation-induced cocoa gorge (eating too many chocolates at home by yourself)

One last tip for anybody suffering the Valentines blues this year: even if you think you have the worst Valentines Day stories ever, just remember they can’t be nearly as bad as what St. Valentine himself actually endured.

Related link

Top 17 Reasons to Invest in Super Bowl insurance

*Esurance does not sell, underwrite, or provide service or claims support for Valentines Day insurance. We’re committed to customer satisfaction, but we’re not crazy!

4 Tips for Navigating the Rise in Older Drivers

The good news: people are living longer. The bad news: not all of those people are (to be perfectly honest) safe to drive.

With the baby boomer population now reaching their golden years, MSN Money recently reported on the silver tsunami — a tidal wave of senior drivers. Experts say that in the next decade, 25 percent of all drivers will be over the age of 65. That’s a big number!

Unfortunately, like a tsunami, there is an implicit danger in sharing the road with so many aging drivers. As people age, their flexibility, vision, memory, and reflexes naturally diminish — and that has a direct impact on their driving. In fact, left turn crashes are much higher among this population as they have trouble judging the speed and distance of oncoming traffic.

Senior driver statistics

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) shows that people over 65 drive far less than their younger counterparts. That’s a good thing. However, when you look at per-mile accident rates, this age group is second only to teenagers. And after age 85, the rate triples. Even worse, mature drivers are more likely to suffer serious injury or death due to their frailty.

This issue of senior driving is big enough to have several Facebook pages devoted to it — usually with the message that seniors should get off the road (which we think is a little harsh at face value). But giving up driving privileges is a sensitive subject for most seniors. And rightly so. How would you feel if you couldn’t jump in the car and drive to the store? What if you had to rely on family members or friends to get around?

Yet, sometimes the physical ramifications outweigh the emotional ones, and we have to put the brakes (pardon the pun) on Grandpa Joe’s dangerous driving. Most states don’t have laws regulating senior driving, so it’s up to families to decide when it’s time to hand over the keys.

Monitoring older drivers

It’s not easy to have this conversation with seniors, as it’s important to be sensitive to what they’re going through. Here are just a few ways to curb potential hazards.

Take granny and gramps for a test drive. Start with a baseline for how they currently drive and check in every few months to see if their ability has declined. Take notes if you have to, so you can show them evidence of what’s changed.

Encourage regular checkups and eye exams. Yearly physical exams can alert seniors to physical or mental conditions that may impact their driving abilities. And, in case it wasn’t obvious, eye exams can determine whether or not their eyes are up to the many challenges of (safe) driving.

Set driving limits. Instead of quitting cold turkey (unless there’s good reason to), suggest eliminating the more dangerous aspects of driving, such as driving at night or in poor weather conditions. As time goes on, limiting the amount of driving they do can also cut down on potential accidents. Studies show that the per-mile rate of accidents is extremely high for seniors. Therefore, the less they’re behind the wheel, the less likely an accident will occur.

Suggest other modes of transportation. This may mean you need to offer up your own chauffeuring services from time to time, but if it keeps granny (and others on the road) safe, it’s probably worth it. Also, if possible, walking is a great way to get around and get exercise (which, research shows, actually improves mental agility). After all, if they used to walk 8 miles in the snow to get to school, they can probably manage half a mile to the store.

No one wants to admit they can no longer do something they once did, but when safety, or even lives, are at stake, sometimes we have to take a hard line. But enough reigning in grams and gramps. Grandma Betty would probably love a phone call from her favorite grandchild right about now.

Related link

Issues related to younger and older drivers

Top 17 Reasons to Invest in Super Bowl Insurance

Are you ready for some football (parties)!?

Don’t look now, but it’s tailgating season. Actually, it’s Super Bowl season. That’s like tailgating season times infinity. Last year, roughly 111 million people watched the Super Bowl. (For you numbers junkies, that’s roughly 36 percent of the U.S. population.)

And with Super Bowl 2013 promising to be just as watchable, it’s go-time for final drills, breathtaking chills, and, unfortunately, multiple spills. Since only 72,000 fans will be able to watch the big event in person, the remaining 110,928,000 will have to make do outside the gates of the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. This is an equally hyped-up bunch in search of Super Bowl bliss, however, so be prepared because they’ll come strong and ready to party.

If you are one of the many planning on attending or even hosting one of these pigskin soirees, you’re going to need a lot of bean dip, and a great deal of readiness for a ton of potential party fouls. Which got us thinking … wouldn’t it be cool if you could purchase Super Bowl insurance to protect yourself from the insanity?

Hypothetically speaking, Super Bowl insurance could include the option to buy coverage for stuff like ineligible fans throwing stuff at your new HDTV, guacamole fumbled on your new microfiber carpet, and could even offer protection from guests hit with an extreme case of “bandwagonitis.”

What’s covered by Super Bowl insurance*

Super Bowl insurance (could**) cover damage from party-related messes, tomfoolery, and the occasional bout of absurdity.

It could also protect you against:

  1. Helmet-shaped-bowl mishaps
  2. Madonna look-a-likes (and National Anthem sing-alongs)
  3. TV commercial “shushers”
  4. Face-painting accidents
  5. Angry armchair referees
  6. Bandwagon fans
  7. Excessive foam finger usage
  8. Vegetable platters
  9. Plumbing mishaps
  10. Hangovers
  11. Post-game hanging out that leads to dancing
  12. Wardrobe malfunctions
  13. Loud hooting and aggressive high fives
  14. Opposing team “crashers”
  15. Football-shaped meatloaf
  16. Guests dressed like actual Patriots and Giants
  17. Overtime delirium

Of course, Super Bowl insurance doesn’t really exist, which means you’re on your own for Super Bowl XLVII. But if you’re planning to host a pigskin soiree, keep this list of potential Super Bowl blunders handy during the big game to help protect you and your loved ones from party fouls. And good luck!

*Super Bowl insurance not available in all states. In fact, Super Bowl insurance not available in any state. If Super Bowl insurance did exist, some restrictions would likely apply.

**Esurance does not underwrite or pay claims for any Super Bowl insurance policies (as if!).

Related links

Going to the big game? Check out these 6 must-haves for the perfect tailgate.

 

The Pac-12 Discount on Smarter Car Insurance

Here at Esurance, we love our sports and have sponsored everything from a Major League Baseball™ team to a local lacrosse league. We’re also a big advocate of making things smarter (car insurance in particular). So it seemed a natural fit for us to sponsor the Pac-12 Conference this year, and as part of that sponsorship, to offer students and alumni a special car insurance discount.

In keeping with our smarter approach to everything we do, we’re offering Pac-12 students and alumni another way to save some money on their car insurance: the Pac-12 discount.* So if you graduated from or are currently attending a Pac-12 school, you could qualify for additional savings. Not bad, eh?

How to get the Pac-12 discount

When you get a quote at www.esurance.com, you’ll be asked if you attended a Pac-12 school. If you qualify, the discount will apply automatically. It’s that easy. And, as always, you can give us a ring at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) too.

About the Pac-12

The Pac-12 (the Pac-10 till just last year) has long been a powerhouse of both academics and sports. It includes the following schools and teams:

  • University of Arizona Wildcats, or just Cats
  • Arizona State University Sun Devils
  • UC Berkeley, aka Cal Bears
  • University of Colorado at Boulder Buffaloes
  • University of Oregon Ducks
  • Oregon State University Beavers
  • Stanford University Cardinal
  • UCLA Bruins
  • University of Southern California Trojans
  • University of Utah Runnin’ Utes and Utes (mens and womens teams)
  • University of Washington Huskies
  • Washington State Cougars

No other conference can boast more NCAA National Team Championships. And academically, the conference is just as competitive, with Stanford and UC Berkeley being particular standouts.

(What better place for smarter car insurance to hang out?)

Current Pac-12 standings (basketball)

Mens

Team Conference Overall
California7-217-5
Washington7-214-7
Oregon6-315-6
Colorado6-314-7
Stanford5-415-6
Arizona5-414-8
UCLA5-412-9

*

Womens

Team Conference Overall
Stanford9-018-1
Arizona State6-315-5
California6-315-6
USC5-411-9
UCLA5-410-10
Colorado4-515-5
Oregon State4-513-7

*

To keep up-to-date with all the goings-on in the Conference of Champions, check out the official Pac-12 site and ESPN’s Pac-12 blog.

And if all this year’s excitement isn’t enough to sate your hunger for Pac-12 sports, don’t miss the excitement of National Signing Day today, when the next 4 years’ worth of Pac-12 stars will discover just where they’ll be playing (and learning)! To get warmed up for the big event, check out ESPN’s preview of National Signing Day for the future of football.

Related links

Get safety discounts on car insurance
3 car insurance discounts for being good

*The Pac-12 discount (also known as the Education discount in some states) is applied to individuals who have attained certain educational levels irrespective of school conference membership. Discount not available in some states, including Washington and California. Reduced rates for Pac-12 students and alumni are available in California.