Multiple substances including cannabis found in nearly half of fatally injured drivers
LOS ANGELES — As law enforcement agencies across California gear up for a maximum enforcement effort over the July 4th holiday and 44 percent of fatally injured drivers testing positive for multiple substances in their system, including alcohol, opioids, cannabis and methamphetamine the California Highway Patrol, Department of Insurance and the insurance industry are reminding drivers of the dangers and consequences of driving impaired.
“One poor decision can have deadly consequences,” said CHP Southern Division Assistant Chief Mark Garrett. “Make a plan and designate a sober driver, use a rideshare option, or take a taxi, but don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
Falling in the middle of the week, this year’s 4th of July holiday gives many people the opportunity to extend the day into a long weekend, which officials fear could translate into more impaired drivers. The 4th also falls in the middle of what the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when young people are at greatest risk for death or injury behind the wheel. The AAA Foundation also found in a 2017 study that a majority of drivers (90.8 percent) perceive people driving after using illegal drugs is a serious threat to their personal safety.
“Summer can be a carefree time, but we must remember it is not a risk-free time,” said Automobile Club of Southern California Community Affairs and Traffic Safety Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana. “Parents, please talk with your teens about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving and be a good role model. Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.”
In preparation for an extended holiday week, law enforcement agencies, traffic safety experts, and the insurance industry are teaming up to remind people to drive sober and be on the lookout for and report suspected impaired drivers by calling 9-1-1.
While efforts to educate young drivers about the dangers of driving under the influence are well established, the legalization of recreational cannabis presents an opportunity for parents to talk with their teen drivers about a new impaired driving hazard, as a recent survey by the Property and Casualty Insurers Association of America found.
“Our survey found that many Californians are hearing the messages warning against distracted driving, but too many people appear to have nonchalant attitudes about the dangers of drug impaired driving,” said Mark Sektnan, Vice President Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. “We need more research, public awareness, and sound public policy surrounding the dangers of marijuana-impaired driving to help save lives and reduce crashes.”
James Lynch of the Insurance Information Institute added, “There is substantial evidence supporting that THC impairment leads to a higher rate of motor vehicle collisions, which increases significantly with consumption.”