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AAA urges safe driving amid cannabis legalization

With Gov. Andrew Cuomo signing legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis in New York state, AAA Western and Central New York is urging the public to educate themselves on the dangers of impaired driving.

Regardless of marijuana’s legal status, all motorists need to avoid driving while impaired. Next to alcohol, marijuana is the drug most commonly found in drivers who have been involved in collisions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In Washington state, the share of drivers who, after a fatal crash, tested positive for active THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, doubled since the state legalized marijuana in December 2012, according to AAA research.

Marijuana use can inhibit concentration, slow reaction times and cloud judgment. Its effects vary by individual, but studies have concluded that marijuana use impairs the ability to drive safely. Research suggests that users who drive after consuming marijuana are at least twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

Marijuana impairs a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Marijuana can adversely impact driver performance, for instance, by increasing reaction times. AAA officials said whether the use of marijuana is legal or not, all motorists should avoid driving while impaired.

AAA officials said the organization supports New York’s plan to launch an education and prevention campaign aimed at reducing the risk of cannabis among school-aged children. AAA also supports New York’s efforts to fund training for more drug recognition experts.

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