The 4/20 marijuana holiday is an opportunity to think about driver safety

Marijuana. The Pennsylvania DUI Association reminds motorists that drug-impaired driving of any kind is dangerous and illegal.

| 14 Apr 2021 | 01:27

Although its origins are uncertain, April 20 (more commonly known as 4/20) has become synonymous with marijuana use and, in some circles, the date is a marijuana holiday.

On Tuesday, April 20, there will likely be an increase in marijuana use, says the PA DUI Association.

To help keep drug-impaired drivers off the roads, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with the Pennsylvania DUI Association to spread the message that drug-impaired driving of any kind is dangerous and illegal. They want to remind all drivers: If you feel different, you drive different.

Just like drunk driving, drug-impaired driving is illegal nationally. According to NHTSA, between 2009 and 2018, of those drivers killed in crashes and tested for marijuana, the presence of marijuana had nearly doubled. In 2018, 46% of drivers who were killed in crashes and were tested for drugs, tested positive.

“This is why it’s so important we spread this lifesaving message,” said C. Stephen Erni, executive director of the PA DUI Association. “It doesn’t matter what term you use: If a person is feeling a little high, buzzed, stoned, wasted, or drunk, they should not get behind the wheel. Think driving while high won’t affect you? You’re wrong. It has been proven that THC can slow reaction times, impair cognitive performance, and make it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane.”

If you’re a designated driver, he said, stick to the plan: don’t use drugs. For all drivers, your best defense against impaired drivers on the road is your seat belt. Wear it on every trip, and make sure your passengers do, too.

“It doesn’t matter what the day is, any impairment is a threat when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said Erni. “We are asking our community members to obey the law and to make safe choices when behind the wheel of a vehicle.”

Get home safely
Always have a plan in place: don’t drive, if you leave your house unprepared to get home safely, you may not make the best choice of how to get home. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for a safe night out.
If you have ingested an impairing substance such as marijuana, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.
If you are drug-impaired, pass the keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you to your destination. Like drunk driving, it is essential that drug-impaired drivers refrain from driving a vehicle. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.
Do you have a friend who is about to drive while impaired by drugs? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone — they’ll thank you later.
If available, use a ride sharing program to get home safely.
If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact 911.