By Steve Elliott
If you're driving in Washington state this summer, something odd may happen. While you're at a stoplight, you may encounter people waring orange vests, with signs saying "Paid Voluntary Survey," and they may ask you if you want to take blood, saliva and breath tests for marijuana. They'll give you 60 bucks if you say yes.
These government-hired survey teams have already begun asking hundreds of Washington state motorists to provide breath, saliva and blood samples, reports Mike Lindblom at The Seattle Times, and they'll be asking questions, too.
The voluntary roadside surveys are a federally funded project to give police and safety agencies a better idea of how many Washingtonians drive high, according to officials. National agencies are working with the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which is in hurry-up mode to get the data before retail marijuana stores open in Washington later this summer.
That way, officials say they'll have a baseline from which to measure any "safety effects" of cannabis legalization, according to commission spokeswoman Jonna VanDyk. The findings might be used to help local law enforcement decide how much time to spend on marijuana DUI patrols, VanDyk said.
The roadside surveys began last Friday and continued over last weekend in Spokane and Yakima counties. Kitsap and Whatcom counties will follow, likely this weekend, and maybe King and Snohomish counties as well, VanDyk said.