New NHTSA campaign to focus on impairment, regardless of substance

Drug-impaired driving is becoming a more common danger on our roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council are launching a new national campaign to change the public perception of driving after using marijuana.

“We want folks to know, if you feel different, you drive different,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King. “We don’t want folks to get behind the wheel after using. We want them to recognize, even if they think they drive better, that drivers are impaired after using marijuana and should arrange for alternate transportation to stay safe.”

From 2007-2013 there was a 48% increase in weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for the presence of cannabis.

“We’re seeing across the country, a greater social acceptability of using,” said King. “We know people are going to use cannabis products. We want this campaign to help us start the national dialogue around making alternate plans, using rideshare, maybe staying at home for the evening, but don’t get behind the wheel.”

It’s important to note that laws surrounding driver impairment are not substance-specific.

“In all 50 states, impairment is impairment is impairment,” said King. “Everyone is familiar with alcohol-impaired or drunk driving laws. People seem to be unaware that those same laws apply to marijuana or pharmaceutical or even over-the-counter drug impairment.”

An impaired brain is not very good at deciding whether or not its impaired, so you need to have a plan before usage begins, regardless of the substance.