Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have expanded a statewide program called Training, Research and Education Driving Safety (TREDS) with the goal of reducing deaths from vehicular crashes.
“The goal of TREDS is to proactively reduce the number of deaths and injuries from risky driving behaviors,” said Linda Hill, MD, MPH, program director of TREDS and professor of family medicine and public health at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “We know the causes of traffic fatalities: driving under the influence, speeding, driving distracted, and not wearing seat belts. These are all modifiable behaviors.”
New funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will support education and training programs that focus on driving under the influence of cannabis and prescription medications.
“The use of recreational marijuana now presents new challenges for law enforcement agencies, health care providers, commercial drivers, and the public,” said Hill. “There is an immediate need for a collective strategy, involving health care and law enforcement, to provide evidence-based, effective education to increase awareness regarding the effects of marijuana and its negative effects on safe driving.”
Driving under the influence of drugs now joins alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving as one of the leading causes of injury and fatality collisions in the United States. The 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found that drinking and driving is decreasing, but drug-impaired driving is rising.
The program will continue to emphasize distraction-free driving amongst both commercial and non-commercial drivers, avoidance of impairing medications, and management of medical conditions that impair driving.
Through statewide partnerships, TREDS will provide train-the-trainer classes for law enforcement, health professionals, and other first responder personnel to address traffic safety issues in their communities. Classes will be offered regionally in 2018 and are available upon request.
Distracted Driving is a leading cause of injury and fatality collisions in the United States. Cell phone use while driving increases crash risk approximately four times when talking and 8 to 23 times when texting. Nationally, there were a minimum of 3,477 distracted driving-affected deaths and 391,000 injuries in 2015.
Alcohol and Drug Use is a nationwide roadway safety concern as almost one in three traffic deaths in the U.S. involve a drunk driver. From 2012 to 2014 in San Diego County, 18 youth, ages 15 to 20, were killed in 17 collisions; 885 teens were injured in 545 alcohol-related crashes.
Older Drivers experience physical and mental changes associated with aging, including reduced visual acuity, decreased strength, and cognitive impairment that can result in driving impairments. In 2015, in California, 479 persons over the age of 65 died as a result of 472 collisions; of these victims, a senior driver was at fault 54 percent of the time. There are currently 4.3 million people over age 65 in California who have driver’s licenses. This includes more than 93,000 drivers over age 90.
Pedestrian Safety is a growing concern. According to NHTSA, in 2015 there were an estimated 5,376 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes and California was one of four states that accounted for 42 percent of all pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian injuries and fatalities have risen in California over the last three years, resulting in 13,481 injuries and 852 deaths in 2015.
To learn more about TREDS visit: treds.ucsd.edu