Driving under the influence of drugs and substances, undoubtedly, impairs your driving. Yet, some people in the state of California have a habit of partaking in recreational cannabis before driving. When these drivers take a hit, they also increase their car’s chance of taking a hit… by another vehicle.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, State Controller, Betty Yee is reopening the conversation on cannabis and driving. She’s not just a graduate from a Drivers Ed California school, but she’s also a victim of a car incident involving a high/stoned driver.
A Mission for Safer Roads
In July 2018, Yee was involved in a traffic accident, which had caused serious injuries. The 25-year-old culprit was suspected of being under the influence of cannabis while driving at high speeds. Because of this incident, Yee is showing her support for a new bill that will address drivers under the influence of cannabis.
The bill will, “require California Highway Patrol to report on how many motorists stopped for impaired driving are allegedly under the influence of marijuana.” Currently, the reported number of impaired drivers does not separate those under the influence of cannabis and other drug substances. Doing so will give a clear indicator of how many drivers on the road like to get high before driving.
Washington and Colorado have already begun this type of enforced tracking on inebriated drivers. The goal of this is to create safer roads for everyone, by calling on the public to become aware of the dangers of high driving.
Moreover, Yee is encouraging the cannabis industry to step up to promote safer use of marijuana – especially when talking about driving. Ideally, Yee wants the industry to “work with law enforcement and policymakers to make sure that the public can feel at ease about having public safety measures in place.” Tackling this issue alone is a large enough task for the State Controller.
In the past, Yee had opposed Proposition 64, a bill which legalized the possession, selling, and growing of marijuana. She reasoned that the California market has not adjusted to take on the growth that this industry would bring to the state. She also argued that the state couldn’t handle the regulation of the newly legalized drug.
Now, serving as evidence of such regulation, Yee is pushing for more thorough inspections on those caught driving under the influence of substances.
Supporting the bill with Yee is State Senator Jerry Hill, who says there is a correlation between legalizing a substance and the number of drivers who use said substance while operating a vehicle. Hill reported, “As we have seen in other states that have legalized cannabis, an increase in cannabis-drugged driving can almost certainly be expected due to legalization.”
Although the data in California might not currently be measurable, due to the only-recent legalization of marijuana, the government is looking at the data yielded from other states. Since the legalization of cannabis in Colorado there has been a 48% increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths. Driving while impaired, no matter the substance, will result in a higher chance of traffic related accidents.
Yee is encouraging cannabis-related businesses to step up and encourage consumers to be aware of the dangers of driving while high. By doing so, she hopes to reduce the number of traffic-related incidents, such as the one she was in earlier this year.