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Last Updated Projects in Transportation

Cannabis-Impaired Driving: A Common Sense Approach
It’s important to remove impaired drivers from the road without unfairly implicating the unimpaired. With per se limits, that involves establishing a direct and parallel relationship between blood levels of THC and levels of impairment. Using the data from DUI arrests, researchers have studied this very relationship. Overall, they find that per se laws face many challenges when cannabis’s metabolic factors are taken into account. Unlike alcohol, cannabis is stored in the fatty tissues of the body. This characteristic means that cannabis compounds, including the psychoactive THC, store and are detectable long term, up to a month or longer of abstinence. Research on frequent and long-term recreational cannabis users finds that, since cannabis stores in the fatty tissues of the body and can be released long after sobriety, chronic users maintain a certain amount of measurable THC in their plasma at all times, even while sober, sometimes exceeding the typical per se standard of 5 ng. In fact, NHTSA found specifically that “THC levels of a few nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) in blood can result …from chronic use where no recent ingestion has occurred and no impairment is present.” In a state with per se limits, such drivers, while not impaired, would be assumed impaired and prosecuted under per se laws, without evidence of impairment.
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AAA: Don't Drive Intexticated
Despite bans on handheld use of smartphones, the threat is growing. A new AAA distracted driving survey of California drivers shows 10 percent of adults say they always or frequently use their smartphone while driving, even though it is against the law. The study also finds adult drivers who are significantly more likely to drive ‘intexticated’ are between 25 to 39 years old and/or those who send and receive more than 50 text messages per day on their smartphones. The survey also revealed: •           Nearly half (46 percent) of those who admit to driving ‘intexticated’ do so for navigation. Other popular reasons cited for using smartphones behind the wheel included searching for audio or music, believing that someone required a quick response, and feeling more productive. •           Ten percent of those surveyed say they have been involved in a crash in the last five years in which they believe distraction played a role. •           Drivers surveyed said they were most likely to drive while ‘intexticated’ when they were alone in the car. The survey is part of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s (AAA’s) “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” Initiative, which aims to make texting while driving as socially unacceptable as drunk driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 9 people die every day from distracted driving and more than one thousand others are injured. AAA member DeeDee Gonzalez was one of them. In 2017, she was riding her motorcycle in Rancho Palos Verdes when a driver hit her head-on while he was looking at his smartphone. She was thrown from her bike, sustained multiple traumatic injuries, and could not walk for months after the crash. She will need some form of physical therapy for the rest of her life. “The legal consequences for texting and driving are not as severe as drinking and driving, which I will never understand. They’re both reckless behaviors,” said Gonzalez. “The law has not caught up with technology and I’m hopeful, maybe I’m optimistic about things getting better,” she said.
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