Stay sober behind the wheel on 4/20

Driving high can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving is the message the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the Drive To Zero (DTZ) Coalition want to share during the “If You Feel Different You Drive Different” safety campaign.

Hillsboro Police Chief Jessey Hiebert agrees.

“Most of the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases worked within Hillsboro are drug-related. I think with the increased social acceptance, and in some states legalization, of marijuana and THC products, we will continue to see an increase in drug-related DUI arrests and fatality motor vehicle accidents,” said Hiebert. “In Hillsboro, in about 50% of drug-related DUI cases involving THC, there were also additional illicit substances involved.”

According to a KDOT press release, Cannabis culture slang recognizes April 20, commonly called 420, as a “marijuana holiday,” resulting in greater potential for illegal driving while drug-impaired. Law enforcement agencies across Kansas will participate in the effort to improve safety by increasing enforcement from April 18-22.

“Nobody should ever drive while under the influence of any impairing substance, it’s illegal, and it could be deadly,” said Gary Herman, KDOT Behavior Safety Manager. “The effects of drugs such as marijuana are no less dangerous than driving after drinking alcohol. Judgment and reaction time is compromised, putting everyone at risk on the road with a driver potentially driving high.”

A Feb. 6 article in the Wall Street Journal titled, ‘Marijuana Impairs Driving for Longer than you think’, summarized research conducted by multiple universities and noted marijuana affects people differently than alcohol and can remain in the body longer than once thought.

“Users of THC may experience impaired body movement or control, altered sense of time, impaired memory and changes in mood which all could change the way a person operates a motor vehicle,” said Hiebert. “The percentage of THC has risen drastically in the marijuana that is currently being used in relation to what was used back in the 60s.”

According to KDOT 2023 preliminary data, 59 people died last year in Kansas crashes where drugs were involved. Another 265 people sustained reported injuries in drug-related crashes. To help save lives and prevent drug-related crashes, KDOT and the DTZ Coalition are sharing these tips:

·Never ride with an impaired driver.

·If you have ingested an impairing substance, hand your keys over to a sober driver.

·Take the keys from someone impaired and help them get home safely.

·Contact law enforcement if you see an impaired driver on the road.

To learn more about the If You Feel Different You Drive Different campaign, visit https://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/safety-topics/drug-impaired-driving.

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