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Risks of cannabis-impaired driving to be added to Mass. driver’s education curriculum

Drivers make their way across the Longfellow Bridge in Boston. Mass. residents under 18 who take driver's ed will learn about the dangers of driving while high starting in January.Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Starting in January, driver’s education courses will include a primer on the perils of driving under the influence of marijuana, according to the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles.

The RMV will hold a briefing Friday to discuss the AAA-crafted curriculum, “Shifting Gears: the Blunt Truth about Marijuana and Driving,” which teaches teenagers about the “risks of cannabis-impaired driving.”

Massachusetts is the first state with legal recreational-use cannabis to adopt the curriculum as part of driver’s education courses. All new drivers younger than 18 must complete 30 hours of driver’s ed and pass a road test before they can get a license.

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“The current driver education module addressing impaired driving will be updated to include research-based information on cannabis, explaining how tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, affects cognition, vision, reaction time, and perception of time and distance,” the RMV said in a statement. “This is the first generation of driver education students to be licensed since cannabis became legal in Massachusetts, and AAA research shows that impaired driving crashes may increase and continue to injure and kill motorists and their passengers.”

The impaired driving program will be taught to roughly 50,000 young drivers each year at 700 driving school locations, according to the RMV.

Speakers at Friday’s news conference include state Registrar Colleen Ogilvie, Cannabis Control Commissioner Kimberly Roy, Newton Police Chief John Carmichael, Keefe Regional Technical High School graduate Lily Sullivan, and Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast’s vice president of public and government affairs, the RMV said.

The AAA website says the curriculum offers students evidence-based information about the dangers of high driving, explains the physical and cognitive processes affected by pot, discusses alternate methods of transportation, and shows a driver’s susceptibility to weed impairment, as well as the “severe consequences” that can result from driving impaired.

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Friday’s briefing will be held at 1 p.m. at the Worcester RMV location at 50 Southwest Cutoff, officials said.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.