Cannibas. Photo via Pixabay

The UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Qualcomm Institute Tuesday announced they will expand a statewide program advocating against driving under the influence of drugs.

UCSD received funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety to expand the Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety program, which offers education and training for health professionals, law enforcement and social services on ways to curb drug DUI charges and improve public safety.

With the program’s new funding, UCSD plans to focus on the dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana and other cannabinoids. California law prohibits driving while high, regardless of whether the marijuana is medicinal or not.

“Many misconceptions about the safety of driving under the influence of cannabis exist,” said TREDS director and UCSD professor Linda Hill. “However, it has been shown to impair drivers both physically and cognitively, resulting in an increased crash risk.”

Data from a 2018 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that drugs were a factor in roughly 44 percent of all fatal vehicle collisions in 2016. Of those drug-related collisions, marijuana was determined to be a factor in 38 percent while opioids were a factor in 16 percent.

UCSD and the TREDS program intend to promote anti-drug DUI programs for teenagers and older drivers in 2019.

“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.

— City News Service