Zero Alcohol Tolerance When Riding (Rena Sumner)
Published on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 in Executive Perspective, News & Updates, Safety
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A little thing happened to me on the way to grandma’s house this year. I was stopped for speeding in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Don’t let the fact that VA and MA are both Commonwealth states fool you. I don’t believe the judges of VA have any love for out of state residents who travel their roads with impudence. Yes, I was absolutely at fault. I was traveling at a high rate of speed. The fact that I clearly felt I was not going as fast as the good officer said his “radar” calculated leads me to the rest of the story.

The Yankee from MA headed to the Rebel VA border to challenge the ticket. The result: I was instructed to take an 8-hour driver’s safety course, either in VA or online in the privacy of my home. Choosing the online course, I thought this was going to be a breeze. When was the last time you really thought about all the rules of the road, the ones you learned when you were 16? Let’s just agree that it’s been a while. I cannot say that I had an “ah ha” moment, however the refresher course was eye opening. I can honestly say today that I’m a more aware driver and did learn something that I would like to share as you head out to the trails this season.

On July 31, 2010 An Act Regulating the Use of Off-Highway & Recreation Vehicles was enacted. This new law is 18 oversized pages long and has a positive, neutral and negative impact on our recreation. The following are just a few of the positives in very condensed version: Age limits for snowmobile riders have not changed. The ban on two people on a one-person machine has been removed. (Note: the wording does allow for size-appropriate seating, so if your passenger barely fits on the same seat as you, you may be subject to a stop. Be smart.) All fines went up sharply, so ride legal. And lastly, a snowmobile DUI will result in the loss of your motor vehicle license and your snowmobile registration for at least one year.

This brings me to what I really want to share with you, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) lesson I learned from the safe driver course. SAM suggests Zero Alcohol Tolerance when riding your snowmobile. When the day is done and you are all settled around a roaring fire in the cabin, do enjoy a cold or hot adult beverage. However, when on the trail make it a rule to not imbibe, and here’s why!

When an average woman weighing 140lbs has one 12 oz beer, her BAC will be .03. Her concentration is impaired. At two beers her level rises to .07 and reasoning, depth perception, peripheral vision and glare recovery take a nose-dive. Is this someone you want to meet on the trail?

How about an average man weighing 180lbs having one 12 oz beer? A bit more grace on the first beer, BAC is be about .02. There will be subtle changes that can be detected with testing, however for purposes of the BAC, you are still good to go as normal. A second beer will put you at .04, however concentration is impaired. Down a third beer and you become someone I do not want to meet on the trail, with a BAC of .06. At this point you are only one beer away from being considered a DUI casualty.

There are a lot of great resources on the web about blood alcohol content and safe driving/riding. Or for a small fee take a driver’s education refresher course, like me. You can actually improve your good driver credits by taking the course and it’s a great way for us “older” drivers to feel like we are 16 again (the stress of the test). I’ll admit that my “this is going to be a breeze” online course had a few re-test sections as I scored less than 100% on a couple of chapter quizzes. It was a great reality check. While I’m still painfully aware of the slimmer wallet the speeding ticket cost me, I am glad that I was required to take the safety course. It was a reminder that driving a motor vehicle is not a right, it is a privilege. Ride smart today so that you can ride tomorrow!

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