San Diego

UC San Diego Launches Campaign to Warn Drivers of ‘Driving High’ Dangers

higher education drugged driving marijuana UCSD

Research shows marijuana has become the most commonly detected drug in drivers killed in crashes and UC San Diego has launched a campaign to warn of the dangers. 

The four public service videos launched by UCSD's Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety (TREDS) are meant to teach drivers of the consequences of driving while drugged. 

"We want to learn from the mistakes we made from drunk driving. We don't want to wait another 30 years to have the rates of... fatal crashes from driving high come down," said UCSD School of Medicine Professor Linda Hill, who has been working with TREDS for 15 years. 

When drivers killed in crashes were tested for drugs or alcohol, they were more likely to have drugs in their system (43 percent tested positive) than alcohol (38 percent tested positive), according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug followed by opioids among drivers killed in collisions in 2016, the NHTSA data showed. 

"When somebody is driving high, their reaction time decreases, their ability to make good decisions decrease, they aren't able to respond to the things that are around them," Hill said. 

Hill said estimates show about 7,000 new cannabis users every day and there are many misconceptions among them about the ability to drive while high. 

"Whether you smoke it, eat it, dab it or vape it – It’s illegal to drive high," one spot said. Each spot ends with the tagline, "Driving high is a DUI."

Hill said, like those who consume alcohol, people who use cannabis products should wait before driving. 

"Our advice for people who are smoking cannabis is to wait for four hours," Hill said. The effect of edible cannabis can be delayed and last for eight hours, she added. 

Funding for TREDS' "Higher Education: Driving High is DUI" comes from a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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