Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada poster

Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada poster

Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada (PDFC) has launched a new campaign across Canada to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while high, writes Rebecca Harris for Marketing. The campaign, aimed at parents of young drivers, uses the slogan, “What are you saying if you don’t say anything?” Harris writes. The media campaign encourages parents to speak with their teens about drug-impaired driving.

The program, which uses TV, radio, web, and print ads created by the Ottawa agency Banfield, reminds parents that their silence “can be deadly,” according to a PDFC press release. Parents have more influence on their teens’ drug use than they might think, PDFC writes. “In fact, almost 70% of teens said one of their main reasons to not try drugs is to avoid disappointing their parents,” PDFC reports.

The campaign’s materials suggest that parents and teens are having “an unspoken conversation” when they engage in everyday activities without addressing driving while high. By not addressing the problem, parents can inadvertently cause teens to think there is no problem, PDFC writes. In Canada, young people from ages 16 through 24 have the highest rate of driver deaths involving drugs and alcohol, the press release says. It notes that car accidents involving drug-impaired drivers are now estimated to exceed drunk driving in that age group.

Although the press release does not go into any detail about which drugs are most prevalent among young drivers in Canada, Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada devotes a page to the problems of marijuana. Unlike the state of Colorado, Canada has not legalized recreational marijuana use. Nevertheless, the site says: “Cannabis is the most common substance of dependence in youth.”

PDFC writes:

[T]eens’ brains and bodies are still developing, and substance use can interfere with their emerging independence and efforts to establish their own identity. Drug and alcohol use can change the direction of a young person’s life — physically, emotionally, and behaviourally. It can weaken the ability to concentrate and retain information during a teen’s peak learning years, and impair judgment leading to risky decision making that could involve sex or getting into a car with someone under the influence of drugs.

Marijuana affects alertness, concentration, perception, coordination and reaction time, many of the skills required for safe driving and other tasks. These effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana. Marijuana use can also make it difficult to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road.

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s website says that any amount of marijuana consumption puts a driver at risk of driving impaired. The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the U.S. writes that in the U.S., marijuana is the most common illegal drug involved in auto fatalities. NDA for Teens (a project of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institutes of Health) writes that January 26 through February 1 is National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) in the U.S. The site shows three NDFW events taking place today in Colorado, at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Weld County (in Greeley), Blevins Middle School in Ft. Collins, and La Academia at the Denver Inner City Parish.

Here is a public service announcement from PDFC’s new campaign:

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