Newswise — Drugged driving has joined drunk driving and distracted driving as a leading cause of motor vehicle collisions. A 2016 Governors Highway Safety Association report listed drugs as a factor in nearly half of fatal collisions, with cannabis the most-commonly detected drug.

As roadway safety remains a pressing public health concern in California, researchers at the Qualcomm Institute and the University of California San Diego School of Medicine have received funding to expand a statewide program known as Training, Research, and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS). TREDS recently launched a public awareness campaign called “Higher Education: Driving High is DUI” to raise awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs.

“Many misconceptions about the safety of driving under the influence of cannabis exist. However, it has been shown to impair drivers both physically and cognitively, resulting in an increased crash risk,” said Linda Hill, MD, MPH, TREDS director and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego.

In California it is illegal to drive under the influence of any impairing substance, including cannabis, whether prescribed or used for recreation. As part of their Higher Education campaign, TREDS developed a series of four videos to raise awareness that you can receive a DUI for driving high. 

A new fact card in English and Spanish about the impacts of cannabis on driving is also available, along with a reference guide for healthcare practitioners that includes prevention messages to share with patients.

“The public is aware that drunk driving is dangerous; now it’s time to make sure they know drugged driving is just as dangerous,” said Chief Jim Abele of the California Highway Patrol, Border Division.

In 2019, TREDS will continue to promote programs that address distracted driving for the public and commercial drivers, as well as education specific to pedestrians, teens, and older road users. TREDS offers training to health professionals, law enforcement, and social services on strategies to employ that can improve public safety. Classes are offered upon request at no cost.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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