AAA and Brown University School of Public Health Highlight Dangers Of Marijuana Impaired Driving
Marijuana in Massachusetts
Nearly 1 in 4 Americans live in a state that has legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. In consideration of the recent legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts, AAA Northeast developed a timely health education program for high school students titled Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth About Marijuana & Driving. This curriculum is presented by AAA traffic safety experts free of charge to high schools.
The 45 to 60-minute program curriculum, which was developed with expertise and consultation from faculty at the Brown University’s School of Public Health, fulfills Massachusetts Secondary Health Education Standards and specifically addresses:
- The effects of smoking, vaping, and consuming THC on the developing teenage brain
- Evidence-based information addressing preconceived ideas about marijuana use and driving
- Explains the physical and cognitive processes affected by marijuana use
- Provides a simulated interactive experience of impairment through activities performed using Fatal Vision Marijuana Goggles
“Researchers in the Brown School of Public Health examining the effects of acute and chronic cannabis use have proven that marijuana impacts the brain in ways that range from an altered sense of time, to difficulty with thinking and problem solving, to hallucinations. We are proud to collaborate to raise awareness and advance the public’s understanding of the dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana,” said Bess H. Marcus, Ph.D., Dean, Brown University School of Public Health.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that in 2017 there were 1,830 drivers 15 to 20 years old who died in motor vehicle crashes, a leading cause of death. “This statistic is especially alarming when working with youth who openly state that they do not feel as though marijuana significantly impairs driving,” said Lloyd Albert, Senior Vice President of Public & Government Affairs at AAA Northeast.
The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that many high school students are engaged in health-risk behaviors. Nationwide, 35.6% of high school students had used marijuana, however, Massachusetts teens self-reported use above the national average (37.9%). The survey indicated that 42.2% of students have used an electronic vapor product. During the 30 days before the survey, 39.2% of high school students nationwide had texted or e-mailed while driving, 29.8% reported current alcohol use, and 13.0% had driven a car or other vehicle one or more times while high on marijuana.
“The dangers that teens face when they mix marijuana use with driving can be catastrophic. We believe this education and awareness program delivered by AAA experts in conjunction with health teachers can serve as an effective countermeasure,” said John Galvin, AAA Northeast’s President and CEO. Educators interested in scheduling a program or learning more should visit www.AAA.com/ShiftingGears.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 64 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.