The growing threat of drugged driving, especially in states where marijuana has been legalized, is alarming, particularly with teens. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, younger drivers were more likely to say they thought it was safe to drive after using marijuana. In fact, more citations are given to teen drivers for drugs than alcohol.
That’s why our AAA Northeast traffic safety education team developed a free program to educate teens about the impact of marijuana and driving. To date, “Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth About Marijuana and Driving” has reached over 3,000 high school students through health classes in Rhode Island and will roll out to nearby states over the next year.
Shifting Gears explores the effects of marijuana on the developing teenage brain and simulates the condition of marijuana-impaired driving by using special goggles.
It also explains that driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime.
This program has far exceeded our expectations. Not only are we educating teens, but we’re also learning a lot.
We’ve learned that teen attitudes around marijuana have shifted. Some students are very open about their drug use. Some believe marijuana is better for them than prescription drugs taken for anxiety or ADHD, because they consider it natural, even if the source is unknown and the dosage is uncontrolled.
Teens admit no one should drive drunk, but many don’t believe marijuana causes impairment.
The good news is that students are engaged in the conversations around marijuana use and driving. They’re asking questions, such as, “What impact does being high have on driving?” and “How long should I wait before driving if I have used marijuana?”
Teens are telling us they want to make safe and educated choices. Our goal is to do just that – provide information that helps keep them, and others, safe on the road.
For more information, visit AAA.com/ShiftingGears.