15 Million People Will Drive High This Month Says AAA
AAA released a study that says about 15,000,000 will drive a car while high on marijuana this month and based on the survey, they don’t think they will get caught or cause extra car accidents. Highlights of the survey data from AAA also discovered the following:
- Those who drive after using marijuana are up to twice as likely to be involved in a car accident
- This is because the drug impairs judgment and motor coordination, and slows reaction time
- About 70% said they think it’s ‘unlikely’ they’ll get arrested for driving high
- Nearly 13% viewed driving after using pot as only ‘slightly dangerous’ or ‘not dangerous at all
The AAA survey ran a poll on 2,500 drivers, over at the age of 16, and had driven a car in the past 30 days. Dr. David Yang of AAA said, “Marijuana can significantly alter reaction times and impair a driver’s judgment. Yet, many drivers don’t consider marijuana-impaired driving as risky as other behaviors like driving drunk or talking on the phone while driving. It is important for everyone to understand that driving after recently using marijuana can put themselves and others at risk.”
The AAA survey found that millennials, 25-39 years-olds, are the most likely to report driving shortly after using pot, followed by Generation Z , which are 24 years old and under. Not surprising in that younger people are more open to cannabis legalization and use than past generations. They are also turning down alcohol and using cannabis in record numbers.
Also, not surprising, men were also almost two times more likely to report driving within an hour after using the drug than women.
Interestingly, about seven percent approved of driving after using cannabis compared to other behaviors such as drinking or drowsy driving. That means that 93% of the drivers did NOT approve, which is still a good thing, as driving under the influence or impairment of anything is not a good idea. Safety should always be first on the road so anything that can impair or distract you is not a good thing, whether we are talking alcohol, texting, phone activity, etc.
Not surprising at all was that the study found that nearly 70 percent of Americans who think it’s ‘unlikely’ they’ll get arrested for driving high. There has yet to be developed a legally acceptable or binding DUI test for cannabis use and driving. Most of the current breathalyzer tests for cannabis on the market have been thrown out when challenged in court. This is an area where science needs to catch up to reality and figure a common measurement system for driving while having THC and CBD in your blood.
The survey found that the number of drivers arrested by trained drug recognition experts has increased by 20 percent since 2015. This is actually a small jump considering legalization has happened for millions of peoples since 2015. The drug recognition experts have had a hard time holding up in a court of law as well when challenged in-front of a drug. It is a similar theory as the sobriety road tests that were much more prevalent before breathalyzers.
AAA recommends that the public avoids driving impaired by designating a sober driver, taking a cab or a ride share service, using public transit, or staying overnight at a friend’s house.
Does Cannabis Make You a Better or Worse Driver?
There are new studies showing that driving with a minimal or acceptable amount of cannabis makes people BETTER drivers (links at the bottom). How could this be if cannabis can pass through the blood-brain barrier and effect cognitive ability? For people with conditions such as ADHD or ADD, cannabis helps them focus and calms their rapid thoughts. Many computer coders use cannabis to stay focused on a coding screen for hours on end without feeling anxious or distracted by other thoughts. Some believe that same effect can happen to people who drive and have the same condition. The right cannabis strains can bring on a calming feeling and sense of focus on a task at hand, including driving.
The other belief that cannabis brings down accident rates or at least we don’t see massive “high and driving accidents” is that cannabis makes you less aggressive, more passive. Incidents involving Road Rage and aggressive driving go down with cannabis use and up with alcohol use. Less aggressive driving, especially with speed limits, always leads to lower accident rates.
Cannabis can affect people differently and different types of cannabis strains and dosages can have dramatically different effects on people. While we do not support driving while high or using cannabis while driving for the obvious safety reasons, there is no denying that the “legalizing cannabis will lead to massive new auto accident rates” has never materialized in Colorado, Washington, or California.
Do people use cannabis and get in car accidents? Sure. Do they also look down at their phone or get in accidents while texting? You bet. Do people drink alcohol and get in a higher rate of accident? Yes. The problem isn’t some new cannabis laws creating zombie drivers, it is just we need to teach proper safety use for using machinery and driving cars for all distractions and substances.