CDOT's joint billboard“Dangerous Combinations” sounds like the name of a feature film, maybe a kinky thriller. But it’s actually the name of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s witty new drugged driving awareness campaign. The department launched its new effort this week, to educate or remind the public that driving high is both dangerous and illegal.

The campaign features inventive videos and billboards. For example, there is a clever illustration captioned “HITS LEAD TO HITS,” which shows a wrecked car that resembles a crudely rolled marijuana cigarette, complete with a small, smoky fire at the very front of the car. A caption on the image implores those reading it: “DON’T DRIVE HIGH.”

There is an equally clever video public service announcement made to seem like a video game: A short phrase jumps around the screen, making it hard for viewers to click on it. The video explains that 19% of DUIs in Colorado are for people driving while high on marijuana because the drug decreases reaction time, “making you an unsafe driver.”

Another video PSA involves a close-up of a man’s hands rolling a joint. The catch is, there is a tiny vehicle (which has apparently just crashed — complete with sound effects) being rolled into the joint.

The video’s voiceover says:

Rolling one up now could mean rolling one over later. Driving high impairs your perception of speed, time, and distance. If you’re high, don’t drive.

High Level of Stoned Driving

A self-reported survey the department conducted last year found that 55% of marijuana users have driven while stoned an average of seven days per month. And this year so far, one in five DUIs in the state has involved pot.

CDOT Safety Communications Manager Sam Cole said:

CDOT wants marijuana users to understand that driving high has the same implications as driving drunk. Driving high impairs your reaction time and vision, both of which are vital to driving safely.

Working With Marijuana Dispensaries

In addition to the PSAs and billboards, CDOT is working with marijuana dispensaries throughout the state to display educational posters and rolling papers that will reach users in places where they buy pot. The department also plans to reintroduce its “Slow-Speed Chase,” on May 21 at the rescheduled 420 Rally at Civic Center Park. The chase was originally scheduled for April 16, but was called off due to snowy weather.

A guerilla-marketing tactic, the Slow-Speed Chase involves two vehicles that pretend to be in a slow-speed chase. The lead car is decorated with a marijuana leaf design, and the vehicle behind it looks like a police cruiser; both cars feature safety messages about marijuana.

CDOT urges drivers not to drive under the influence of marijuana, and suggests that they plan for alternate transportation any time they will be using pot to avoid car accidents. In Colorado, a driver can be prosecuted if a test finds that his or her blood contains 5 nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of pot. But whatever a driver’s THC levels, the law permits law enforcement officers to arrest drivers if the drivers appear to be impaired.

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