HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Office Out To Convince Teens Pot Impairs Driving
Pubdate: Fri, 03 Dec 2004
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Lexington Herald-Leader
Author: Dee-Ann Durbin, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


WASHINGTON - Many teen drivers say it's less dangerous to drive after
smoking marijuana than after drinking alcohol, a perception the
government wants to change.

"Driving sober means no alcohol, no marijuana, no drugs," John
Walters, the Bush administration's drug policy director, said
yesterday as he showed a new television ad aimed at stopping teens
from driving after smoking pot.

Walters' office is spending $10 million on the ad and other efforts to
teach teens and their parents about the danger of drugged driving.
There also are brochures that are being distributed in high schools
and state motor vehicle offices.

Marijuana can affect concentration, perception and reaction time up to
24 hours after it's smoked, Walters said. Yet teens have gotten the
message that it's a benign drug.

In a recent study, 30 percent of teens said "planning to drive" was a
reason not to drink. But only 18 percent cited "planning to drive" as
a reason not to take drugs. The survey questioned 3,574 middle and
high school students nationwide in spring and was conducted for
Students Against Destructive Decisions and Liberty Mutual Insurance.

A 2004 study of patients admitted to the trauma unit at the University
of Maryland found that 19 percent of crash victims under 18 tested
positive for marijuana.

Allison Whitney, 25, a drug counselor and recovering addict from
Atlanta, said she got into several accidents as a teenager because she
was smoking pot while driving. Sometimes she would get pulled over for
swerving, but police would let her go when she didn't test positive
for alcohol.

Whitney said part of the allure of marijuana for teens is that it's
easy to hide.

"You can get high in less time than you can get drunk, and your
parents won't detect it," she said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek