With recreational marijuana use now legal for adults and pot shops opening up, state officials are warning the parents of new drivers about the dangers of teens driving while high.
The warnings are included in the latest edition of an educational booklet for parents and guardians of teen drivers that was unveiled by state transportation officials at a press conference Tuesday.
“The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program” has a new section titled, “Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s safe.”
The booklet notes it’s still illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to use the drug, and driving while under the influence of it remains a criminal offense.
“Smoking or eating marijuana makes it more difficult to respond to sights and sounds,” the booklet states. “This makes you dangerous as a driver because it lowers your ability to handle a quick series of tasks. The most serious problems occur when facing an unexpected event, such as a car coming from a side street or a child running out from between parked cars. These problems get worse after dark, because marijuana also causes decreased visibility at night.”
Recreational marijuana use was legalized in the state in December 2016. Retail marijuana stores began opening in November 2018.
The 52-page booklet is given to junior operators when they obtain their learner’s permits, and copies are available at full-service RMV Service Centers and online at mass.gov/rmv.
In Massachusetts, junior operators are required to spend at least 40 hours of supervised driving with a parent or guardian and complete a state-approved driver education and training program, officials said in a press release.
The booklet includes a driving log for parents and teens to record their driving time. There’s also a RoadReady mobile app that allows parents and teens to log and manage their driving hours with their smartphones, the release said.
Erin Deveney, the registrar of motor vehicles, emphasized the importance of the program.
“We believe families who participate in The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program assist us in underscoring safe driving habits and practices for our young adults,” she said in the release.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles issued approximately 66,878 learner’s permits in 2018, according to the press release.