On Aug. 14, a campaign led by Mass. Governor Charlie Baker kicked off with the goal of making people aware of the dangers associated with driving under the influence of marijuana. The campaign includes videos featuring individuals who share their experiences after driving while impaired and targets men ages 18 to 34, who are the most likely demographic to drive high.
State officials hope that the campaign will address the myth that driving under the influence of marijuana is not dangerous. According to Baker, “the height of summer travel season is an opportunity for us to remind motorists about the dangers of impaired driving. Research and data show that many people do not understand or believe the link between using marijuana and impaired driving, so this campaign is designed specifically to address this.”
The campaign was based in part by information gathered from focus group interviews. During the interviews, it became clear that many adults do not view driving after using marijuana as unsafe, and that the law was not a strong deterrent to prevent people from doing so. This belief has led millions of drivers to get behind the wheel while high. In fact, a 2018 Department of Public Health study found that 35 percent of adults who used marijuana in the previous month reported driving while they were still under the influence of marijuana.
A similar report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that in a survey of U.S. drivers ages 16 and over, nearly 70 percent of almost 2,600 respondents found it unlikely that a high driver will get caught by a police officer. Researchers also estimated that approximately 14.8 million Americans drove within one hour of using marijuana in the past 30 days.
The survey results can once again be tied back to the myth that driving under the influence of marijuana is not dangerous. In fact, the same AAA survey found that over four times more Americans approved of driving soon after using marijuana (7%) than the percentage of drivers who approve of driving soon after using alcohol (1.6%).
In Massachusetts, marijuana was the most prevalent drug after alcohol that was involved in fatal crashes between 2013 and 2017. According to the CDC, being high negatively impacts essential skills needed to drive safely. Drivers on marijuana can have:
- An inability to make decisions
- Decreased reaction time
- Difficulty problem-solving
- Distorted perception
- Impaired coordination
- Memory loss
If you or a loved one has experienced pain or suffering caused by an impaired driver, consider reaching out to us today at (617) 391-9001 to discuss your legal options.
A partner at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP in Boston, J. Tucker Merrigan represents individual clients throughout all of Massachusetts and the United States—concentrating his practice on cases that involve personal injury, defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, wrongful death, premises liability, products liability, medical malpractice, and insurance law. Known for strong client relationships and positive results, Merrigan has been named a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorney by National Trial Lawyers from 2015-2018 and named Super Lawyer Rising Star for 2018.