COLUMBUS — AAA and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) have partnered to educate youth on the risks of marijuana-impaired driving. The primary focus of the partnership is the delivery of peer-to-peer education by SADD’s student leaders utilizing a curriculum developed by AAA Northeast called Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth About Marijuana & Driving. The curriculum, endorsed by Brown University’s School of Public Health, addresses:
•The effects of THC on the developing teenage brain
•Research-based information on increased crash risks for marijuana-impaired drivers
•The physical and cognitive processes affected by marijuana use
The Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth About Marijuana & Driving program has been delivered to approximately 60,000 high school students throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island and is now being launched in Ohio. Pre- and post-program surveys demonstrate significant attitudinal change; after participating in the Shifting Gears program, 98 percent of teens surveyed agreed that marijuana impairs driver performance, and 95 percent of participants agreed that marijuana affects a driver’s reaction time.
Drug impaired driving is a growing problem on Ohio’s roads. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol:
Thirty-seven percent of Ohio traffic fatalities in 2021 involved someone under the influence of drugs.
The most common drug of abuse in fatal crashes was cannabis by an almost 3-1 margin (cannabis 292/amphetamines 104.)
The Ohio State Highway Patrol made more than 18,000 impaired driving arrests in 2021 – every 28 minutes someone was arrested for OVI by a state trooper.
“Data and research confirm the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana,” said Kimberly Schwind, director, public affairs for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “This evidence-based program aims to save lives by proactively educating our youth on the risks of marijuana impaired driving.”