Released By AAA
An estimated 14.8 million Americans report driving within one hour of using marijuana in the past 30 days. This alarming figure is part of the findings of a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey. This survey also revealed that nearly 70 percent of Americans feel it’s unlikely people who drive high will be caught by police.
“Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired put themselves and others at risk,” said Jenkins. “AAA recommends all motorists avoid driving while impaired by marijuana or any other drug (including alcohol) to keep the roads safe. Remember, just because a drug is legal, that does not make it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle.”
In the AAA Foundation survey, 7% of Americans said they approve of driving after recently using marijuana. That’s more than other dangerous behaviors like alcohol-impaired driving (1.6%), drowsy driving (1.7%), and prescription drug-impaired driving (3%).
Millennials (nearly 14%) are most likely to report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days, followed by Generation Z (10%).
Men (8%) are more likely than women (5%) to report driving shortly after using marijuana in the past 30 days.
“It’s deeply concerning that many Americans don’t consider marijuana-impaired driving as risky as other behaviors like driving drunk or texting while driving,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Marijuana can significantly alter reaction times and impair a driver’s judgement. It is important for everyone to understand that driving ‘high’ puts you, your passengers, and other motorists in danger.”
The impairing effects of marijuana are usually experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug. Marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.
Law enforcement officials are getting more sophisticated in their methods of identifying drug-impaired drivers.
Programs like Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and the 50-State Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program were developed to train law enforcement officers around the country to more effectively recognize drug-impaired driving. There are currently more than 87,000 ARIDE and 8,300 DECP trained officers patrolling U.S. roads. Additionally, the number of trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) has increased by 30% since 2013. These officers report that marijuana is the most frequently identified drug category. Since 2015, the number of drivers arrested by DREs for using marijuana increased 20%.