Whatcom drivers to be asked about drinking, drugs this weekend


A national research group will be surveying drivers in Whatcom County this weekend, June 21-22, to get a snapshot of impaired driving before recreational marijuana stores open.

Participation is voluntary, and the data will be anonymous. Those who complete it will be paid $60, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Researchers will be positioned in areas where traffic normally backs up. They will invite people to participate in a nearby area. Organizers have promised not to impede traffic flow.

Participants will be asked questions about drinking, drug use and driving behavior. They also will be asked for saliva and blood samples. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete.

The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation will conduct the surveys. The commission is collaborating with the safety commission on the study, which is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Similar surveys have been conducted in Spokane, Yakima, King and Snohomish counties this month. The idea is to get a snapshot of drug and alcohol abuse now, just before recreational pot stores open this summer.

For more information about the research group and a video showing how the surveys are conducted, go to wtsc.wa.gov.

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