VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – This week, marijuana will become legal in Virginia. AAA Tidewater wants to make sure drivers know just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while driving.
Spokesperson Holly Dalby told WAVY.com, “AAA is concerned about the safety of all drivers on the road, so not only that person who is going to be potentially driving high but the safety of everyone else around them.”
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found fatal crashes involving cannabis increased up to 153% in other states that legalized marijuana. “(In) Washington state fatal crashes doubled over the 10 years,” Dalby said.
It will be against the law for Virginia drivers or passengers to smoke or consume marijuana products in a vehicle. Dalby said if you do choose to use it, it would be wise to wait before getting behind the wheel.
The issue, Dalby said, is there is no way to know for sure how long. “You can’t just easily do a breathalyzer test to tell impairment at the roadside.”
Research shows marijuana can impair your reaction time and coordination and that can affect a driver’s following distance and lane deviation.
The drug, however, affects people differently. Dalby said that makes it difficult to develop fair guidelines. So, she said, “If you’re going to smoke cannabis, do not drive. If you’re going to smoke it or consume it in anyway, edible, anything, don’t drive.”