New statistics released about driving while high on marijuana show that Americans may perceive it as less of a concern than other dangerous driving habits.
In a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, seven percent of Americans reported they “approved” of driving after using marijuana. This percentage is higher than the approval rating for other dangerous behaviors like alcohol-impaired driving (1.6 percent), drowsy driving (1.7 percent), and prescription drug-impaired driving (3 percent).
This perceived approval is also reflected in the 70 percent of Americans who, according to the survey, think that it is “unlikely” that a driver will get caught by police for driving while high. And despite the fact that marijuana laws are becoming looser, law enforcement officials say they can still prosecute those driving while high to the fullest extent of the law.
“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.”
Overall, the survey shows that an estimated 14.8 million Americans (about 14 percent of Millennials and 10 percent of Generation Z) report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days.
Regardless of a driver’s age, AAA states that just because a drug is legal doesn’t mean it is safe to use while operating a vehicle. Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired on any substance are putting themselves and others at risk.
“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.”
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