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Federal Study on Marijuana-Impaired Driving Proposed

June 10, 2016

Photo by Kathrin Tausch via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Kathrin Tausch via Wikimedia Commons.

The House Appropriations Committee has recommended directing federal safety regulators to research methods for detecting marijuana-impaired driving.

The recommendation is included in a committee report aimed at explaining the budgetary needs addressed in the fiscal year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill.

Committee members on May 24 passed the legislation allocating $58.2 billion in discretionary spending to the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and other related agencies.

The bill includes $918.3 million in total funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation. That’s an increase of $49 million over the fiscal year 2016 amount.

In the bill’s accompanying report, the committee recommends that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration work in coordination with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other related agencies to study methods for detecting marijuana-impaired driving.

The report calls for research on “devices capable of measuring marijuana levels in motor vehicle operators, impairment standards research for driving under the influence of marijuana, methods to differentiate the cause of driving impairment between alcohol and marijuana, state-based policies on marijuana impaired driving, and the role and extent of marijuana impairment in motor vehicle accidents.”

The research proposal drew praise from the insurance industry.

“Prompt action by NHTSA to conduct a study on marijuana-impaired driving is a critical step that could lead to reducing fatalities on the road,” said Nat Wienecke, senior vice president of federal government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.

Wienecke praised both Appropriations THUD Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) for including the study recommendation in the report.

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