The goal: Make driving high on pot as taboo as driving drunk
New Jersey is one of dozens of states that have changed their laws regarding marijuana, but it's still illegal — everywhere — to drive while impaired by the drug.
A campaign launched this week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council aims to make driving after marijuana use as socially unacceptable as driving drunk.
"People, because it doesn't them the same way as alcohol, think that they drive safer, but in fact, it's still risky," Heidi King, NHTSA's deputy administrator, told New Jersey 101.5.
The campaign, If You Feel Different, You Drive Different, notes that marijuana can slow one's reaction time, impair judgment of distance, and decrease coordination.
"And if you drive high, you'll get a DUI," King said.
According to a NHTSA study, there was a 48 percent increase from 2007 to 2013 in weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for THC, the chemical responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana. King said the problem is a national one, not just in states that have approved the drug for medicinal and/or recreational use.
In 2017, the most recent year for which state data is available, illicit drug use was recorded for 79 drivers who lost their lives on New Jersey's roads. Another 57 were under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The data do not indicate which drug was recorded.
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