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THE POST-SIGNAL / Steve Bandy
Trooper First Class Thomas Gossen, public information officer for Louisiana State Police Troop I, spoke this week to the Crowley Lions Club. Gossen touched on a variety of subjects, ranging from seat belt use to impaired driving.

TFC Gossen addresses Lions Club

Cell phones are probably the single most dangerous and overused distraction of drivers in Louisiana, according to Trooper First Class Thomas Gossen, public information officer for Louisiana State Police Troop I.
Gossen spoke to members of the Crowley Lions Club this week about a variety of subjects, ranging from seat belt use to the possible legalization of marijuana to the use of cell phones in automobiles.
“There is a lot of emphasis on cell phone use in the legislature right now,” Gossen said.
The House Transportation Committee overwhelmingly approved a bill recently that would ban drivers from even holding their cell phones while behind the wheel.
“But even using a hands-free phone distracts a person by 33 percent,” Gossen said. “Phones are a big problem, but so are drivers who are putting on make-up or eating or looking at their guidance system.”
Gossen said Troop I has investigated 16 traffic fatalities thus far this year, six of which included pedestrians.
“Of the other 10 fatalities, six — or 60 percent — weren’t wearing their seat belts,” he said.
“People think they don’t have to use a seat belt because they have air bags. Well, an air bag deploys once. When you’re in a crash, you hit, bounce, hit, roll, hit again.
“And just because you’re wearing a seat belt, that doesn’t make you safe if others in the vehicle aren’t,” he added. “People become projectiles in a crash if they’re not belted in.”
There were 65 traffic-related fatalities in the Troop I area last year, up one from 64 the year before, according to Gossen.
Another big problem in Louisiana is impared drivers, the Trooper said.
“It’s really scary the number of impaired drivers on the roads today,” he said.
That led into a discussion of the possible legalization of marijuana.
Gossen explained that the “marijuana of today” is not the same as the “marijuana of yesterday.”
The genetic modifications and chemicals used to enhance the effects of THS, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects, make marijuana much more dangerous, he said.
“In ‘the old days,’ marijuana had a THC content of about 6 percent. Today’s marijuana has a content of 15 percent or more,” he said. “This is not our grandpas’ marijuana any more.”
Gossen added that THS remains in a person’s blood for about 30 days.
“So, lets say you go to Colorado, where marijuana’s legal, and you come back here and get in a wreck two weeks later. That THC is still in your blood stream and you can be charged with impaired driving.”
Gossen is a former special education teacher for 15 years and has been with the State Police for five years. He is a native of Rayne.

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