Massachusetts Becomes First State to Add Marijuana Classes to Driver Education Curriculum
Massachusetts drivers will be officially informed of the risks of driving under the influence of marijuana. All new drivers under the age of 18 in Massachusetts will need to be instructed in the dangers of driving under the influence. It becomes the first country to make this update for driver education.
Starting in 2023, Massachusetts will become the first US state where recreational marijuana use is legal to include in its driver training program a specific lesson on the safety of drugs while driving.
The addition to the program was created by the American Automobile Association (AAA) in partnership with the Cannabis Control Commission and the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and is titled “ Shifting Gears: The Blunt Truth About Marijuana and Driving (driving while impaired by marijuana), according to WCVB.
“This is the first generation of student drivers to be licensed since cannabis became legal in Massachusetts, and AAA research shows impaired driving crashes may increase and continue to injure and kill motorists and their passengers,” Registry of Motor Vehicles officials wrote.
In the state of Massachusetts, all new drivers under the age of 18 are required to complete 30 hours of classroom training before receiving their full, unrestricted license. Officials say that means about 50 young drivers will receive the new curriculum each year at the approximately 000 driving schools in Massachusetts.
"The current driver training module dealing with drinking and driving will be updated to include research-based information about cannabis, explaining how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, affects cognition, vision, reaction time, and perception of time and distance,” MassDOT officials said.
Massachusetts voted to approve marijuana legalization in 2016, and it became the first East Coast state to allow regulated, recreational marijuana stores to open in 2019. Education for this state and others states can be an important tool for lawmakers to consider, as the IIHS recently found that states where weed was legalized have seen increases in road accidents.
According to the AAA lesson plan, the new interactive module provides evidence-based information about the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana, explains how the drug affects cognitive processes, discusses alternative transportation methods and demonstrates "the driver's susceptibility to this impairment", as well as its consequences.