Safety First: Michigan Officials Urge Responsible Celebration on 4/20

April 19th, 2024 Safety & Education
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As 4/20 approaches, marking a day celebrated by cannabis enthusiasts, Michigan traffic safety officials are intensifying their calls for responsible celebration. Recognized unofficially as a cannabis appreciation day, 4/20 also serves as a critical moment for raising awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis, which remains illegal under Michigan law even though recreational use is permitted for adults.

Katie Bower, Director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, emphasized the importance of safety on this high-profile day. "Those who plan to use cannabis on 4/20—or any day—should not drive," Bower stated. She advises anyone who finds themselves impaired to seek alternative transportation methods such as taxis, rideshares, designated drivers, or public transportation.

Statistics underscore the gravity of the issue. In 2022, Michigan recorded 1,053 fatal crashes, with 21.7% involving drugs. Moreover, of the drug-involved crashes, over half were single-vehicle incidents, which points to the heightened risk that impaired drivers pose to themselves and others. Cannabis affects the driver's ability to react quickly and maintain cognitive function, crucial for safe driving.

Lt. Rene Gonzalez of the Michigan State Police also weighed in, reminding residents that "even though this is a day to celebrate, it is still illegal to drive while you are under the influence of any type of drug, including cannabis." The data is alarming: out of 15,000 car crashes in Michigan in 2022, 229 fatal accidents involved drug-impaired drivers.

Authorities like Scott Wrigglesworth, the Ingham County Sheriff, urge the public to act responsibly. "If you've been smoking, you're probably legally intoxicated, and you should find another way to get yourself from point A to point B," he cautioned. The Michigan State Police and other law enforcement agencies will likely be on high alert during the holiday to prevent accidents related to impaired driving.

As 4/20 continues to grow in popularity among cannabis enthusiasts, the day also represents a significant opportunity to educate the public on the risks of drug-impaired driving and the importance of responsible consumption practices. The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, along with national organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is using this occasion to remind everyone on the road: the decisions you make while impaired don't just affect you—they affect everyone around you.

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