New Marijuana-Impaired Driving Campaign Created by Coloradans Launched by CDOT

Data chart for Drivers testing positive for 5 nanogram/mL or greater Delta-9 THC in fatal crashes from 2016 to 2019. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has launched a new campaign “Uncomfortable High” this month statewide to curb marijuana-impaired driving.

The new campaign was developed for Coloradans, by Coloradans as part of a statewide initiative called The Cannabis Conversation which began in 2017 with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) asking Coloradans about their feelings and thoughts regarding driving under the influence of marijuana. This allowed CDOT to better understand the public’s attitude and behaviors when driving high and to better connect with audiences through education and prevention campaigns.

Fatal crashes involving marijuana have been increasing since 2017 with 33 drivers in fatal crashes testing positive for five nanograms or higher of Delta-9 THC and 49 testings positive in 2019. Marijuana inhibits safe driving abilities from tracking, motor coordination, visual functions, and complex tasks that require multitasking according to a National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration’s (NHSTA) review and analysis of 60 studies.

“The point of The Cannabis Conversation was to learn how CDOT could more effectively communicate with Coloradans and influence their decision making,” said CDOT Communications Manager Sam Cole. “We took all the research and input we received from the public and molded it into this campaign with the goal of motivating Coloradans to not drive while high,” Sam said.

CDOT crowdsourced, vetted, and tested creative concepts and messaging for its latest campaign through online surveys, focus groups, workshops, meetings with dispensaries and trade organizations, public meetings, and open houses. The findings and feedback came from over 80,000 Coloradans across the state.

“An important takeaway for us was challenging cannabis consumers to rethink the choice to drive under the influence and how it unnecessarily puts others at risk,” said Sam. “During the testing phase, people who were skeptical about the risks associated with cannabis-impaired driving responded to campaigns that invoked feelings counter to their deeply held beliefs that driving after consuming is solely a personal decision,” Sam said.

For more information regarding CDOT’s new campaign including creative materials, visit:

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