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Massachusetts becomes first in nation to make this update to driver's ed

WCVB Boston 12/13/2022
A person driving (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Invision for Lincoln/AP Images) © Aaron M. Sprecher A person driving (Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher/Invision for Lincoln/AP Images)

Starting next year, Massachusetts will become the first state in the nation with legal recreational marijuana to add lessons about cannabis impairment to driver's education programs, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced.

The new curriculum, "Shifting Gears: the Blunt Truth about Marijuana and Driving," was created by AAA. Officials estimate that approximately 50,000 young drivers will be taught the program each year in approximately 700 driving schools across the state.

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All first-time drivers younger than 18 in Massachusetts are required to complete 30 hours of classroom instruction before they can receive a full, unrestricted license.

"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," MassDOT officials said.

MassDOT said the Registry of Motor Vehicles, AAA and the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission are planning an event to tout the new program on Friday.

Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of marijuana in November of 2016, and the state became the first on the East Coast with regulated recreational marijuana stores on Nov. 20, 2019.

"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," officials wrote.


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