As the list of legal and commercially available substances that can impair a person’s ability to drive a vehicle grows to include pot, state public safety officials on Wednesday launched a public awareness campaign to urge drivers to find alternate transportation if they have been drinking or using marijuana.
An average of 125 drunk or high drivers die on Massachusetts roads each year, Undersecretary for Public Safety and Security Jennifer Queally said, and a recent Department of Public Health survey found that one-third of people who said they have used marijuana in the last 30 days have also driven under the influence in the last 30 days.
“The number of high drivers and the number of deaths on our roadways is already too high, no pun intended,” Queally said Wednesday at a press conference to launch the campaign. “Driving high, driving stoned or driving drunk is dangerous and illegal, but most importantly it is deadly.”
The awareness campaign, which includes a 30-second ad that will air on broadcast television and digital platforms, focuses on the consequences of impaired driving.
“There are roads, the ones you take, the ones you don’t, there are laws, there are rules and there is you ... you driving, you drunk driving, you driving high, you stoned and driving ... you spinning, crashing, you arrested, you killing my mom or yours, my daughter, my sister, my love, my life and yours,” actors in the ad say into the camera.
The ad ends by displaying the text, “Drunk? Stoned? Driving? Don’t.”
The campaign encourages anyone legally using marijuana or alcohol to hail a cab, use a ride for hire service or take public transit instead of driving.
“If you are using marijuana legally, all we ask is that you use an alternate means of transportation, whether that be a rideshare, the MBTA, a taxi or a designated driver,” State Police Maj. Richard Ball, the commanding officer of Troop H, said.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security on Wednesday also announced that it will provide funds to the State Police and 153 local departments to conduct “high-visibility enforcement patrols and sobriety checkpoints throughout the state.”
Cannabis Control Commissioner Jennifer Flanagan said the CCC wrote into its regulations requirements that marijuana labeling, marketing and branding must include warnings like, “Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.”