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Sober Drivers, Safe Travels Urged In New State Ad Campaign

Marijuana
State public safety officials Monday are launching a statewide public information campaign about the dangers of driving drunk or stoned.
Steven Senne/AP

State public safety officials Monday are launching a statewide public information campaign about the dangers of driving drunk or stoned and a mobilization of police officers to conduct "stringent" impaired driving enforcement operations this holiday season.

The safe driving campaign is the first since retail stores began selling recreational marijuana and the danger of driving while impaired by marijuana is a feature of the campaign, which is anchored by television, public transit and internet ads in both English and Spanish.

"Drivers impaired by marijuana, alcohol or any other drug threaten the safety of every other motorist on the road with them," new Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco said in a statement. "In 2016 alone, 79 innocent people were killed by impaired drivers. That's unacceptable."

The campaign urges drivers to find alternate transportation if they have been drinking or using marijuana and stresses the importance of having a plan to get home before starting the party. Like a similar campaign that ran on TV over the summer, this outreach effort suggests people who have been drinking or smoking hail a cab, use a ride for hire service or take public transit instead of driving.

State Highway Safety Division Director Jeff Larason said the campaign "recognizes the vital role played by the people who get you home safely — whether it's a friend who stays sober, an MBTA operator working the late shift or a ride share driver who deals with an endless stream of intoxicated customers."

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security announced it will provide funding to the State Police and 139 local departments to conduct "a stringent impaired driving enforcement effort," including patrols at high-incident locations and sobriety checkpoints.

According to EOPSS, an average of 10 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2012 and 2016 were found to have both alcohol and drugs in their system, with marijuana being the most prevalent of the drugs identified. A third of all fatal crashes nationally involve drunk drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Massachusetts has 155 officers certified as drug recognition officers and 1,402 trained in advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement, EOPSS said.

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