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Upward trend in drugged driving fuels Labor Day law enforcement effort

News: 2018 Press Release

For Release: August 30, 2018
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Upward trend in drugged driving fuels Labor Day law enforcement effort
Multiple substances found in nearly half of fatally injured drivers, including cannabis
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — As law enforcement agencies across California gear up for a maximum enforcement effort over the Labor Day weekend 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, AAA Northern California, the Insurance Industry and the Ford Motor Company are reminding drivers of the dangers and consequences of driving impaired, which also includes distractions, such as texting or using a smart device while driving.

The Labor Day weekend marks the end 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 as a serious threat to their personal safety.

"Whether caused by drugs, alcohol, or a distraction like a phone, impaired drivers are a significant danger on California's roads and highways," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Set a good example for young drivers by driving responsibly and making safe choices behind the wheel."

In preparation for an extended holiday weekend, 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 an important 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."

"It doesn't matter if you're drinking alcohol or using recreational marijuana, there's never an excuse to drive while intoxicated," said Xavier Maltese, spokesman for AAA Northern California. "You should always plan for a safe ride home, but if those plans fall through, AAA will get you and your vehicle home safely through its Tipsy Tow service."

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Media Notes:
  • Launched in 2003, the Ford Motor Company's Driving Skills for Life program is designed to help improve young drivers' behind-the-wheel skills beyond what they receive in basic driver education courses and teach them about risks, including distractions and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
  • GoPro video of students driving a controlled course in the Drugged Driving Suit, which simulates driving under the influence of drugs, is available through the Department of Insurance Communications team, call 916-492-3566.  
  • Press conference was live streamed. You can watch it here.
  • Photos from the event.

Led by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the California Department of Insurance is the consumer protection agency for the nation's largest insurance marketplace and safeguards all of the state’s consumers by fairly regulating the insurance industry. Under the Commissioner’s direction, the Department uses its authority to protect Californians from insurance rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory, oversee insurer solvency to pay claims, set standards for agents and broker licensing, perform market conduct reviews of insurance companies, resolve consumer complaints, and investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Consumers are urged to call 1-800-927-4357 with any questions or contact us at via webform or online chat. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.

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