An estimated 14.8 million drivers report getting behind the wheel within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey.
That’s despite the impairing effects of marijuana usually being experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug.
“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,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It is important for everyone to understand that driving after recently using marijuana can put themselves and others at risk.”
The survey found that nearly 70 percent of Americans think it’s unlikely a driver will get caught by police for driving while high on marijuana. And seven percent said they approved of driving after recently using marijuana – more than other dangerous behaviors like alcohol-impaired driving (1.6 percent), drowsy driving (1.7 percent), and prescription drug-impaired driving (three percent).
Other survey findings show that:
- Millennials (nearly 14 percent) are most likely to report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days, followed by Generation Z (10 percent).
- Men (eight percent) are more likely than women (five percent) to report driving shortly after using marijuana in the past 30 days.
“It’s time to face the facts. Any driver who gets behind the wheel high can be arrested and prosecuted,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety and Advocacy. “Law enforcement officials are getting more sophisticated in their methods for identifying marijuana-impaired drivers and the consequences are not worth the risk.”
AAA recommends all motorists avoid driving while impaired by marijuana or any other drug (including alcohol) to avoid arrest and keep the roads safe. Just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired put themselves and others at risk.
The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,582 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.