Many mar­i­juana users say drug doesn’t neg­a­tively im­pact driv­ing: CAA sur­vey

Windsor Star - - CITY + REGION -

TORONTO Nearly half of driv­ers who are also mar­i­juana users told a sur­vey they drive bet­ter, drive about the same or don’t know if cannabis im­pacts their abil­ity be­hind the wheel.

The sur­vey — a poll of 1,000 driv­ers com­mis­sioned by the Cana­dian Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion South Cen­tral On­tario and con­ducted by Ip­sos — found that 16 per cent of re­spon­dents had used mar­i­juana within the last three months.

At­ti­tudes about driv­ing and mar­i­juana use in that group, dubbed cur­rent users by the poll­ster, present a se­ri­ous pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion is­sue when it comes to drugim­paired driv­ing, CAA direc­tor of gov­ern­ment re­la­tions Teresa Di Felice said.

“One of the chal­lenges is that there is a per­cep­tion by peo­ple who use mar­i­juana that they drive the same or bet­ter when they’re un­der the in­flu­ence of mar­i­juana,” she said. “That is a con­cern and puts safety at risk .... There are cog­ni­tive im­pacts. There are con­cerns.”

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, eight per cent of cur­rent mar­i­juana users be­lieve they drive bet­ter af­ter us­ing mar­i­juana than when they are sober. Another 29 per cent of cur­rent cannabis users be­lieve their abil­ity to drive is the same af­ter us­ing mar­i­juana as when sober. Twelve per cent of re­spon­dents who are cur­rent users said they didn’t know if there was any dif­fer­ence be­tween their abil­ity to drive af­ter us­ing mar­i­juana or sober.

The re­main­ing 52 per cent of cur­rent mar­i­juana users be­lieve they drive worse af­ter us­ing pot than when sober.

Di Felice calls those re­sults “star­tling” but says they line up with the view of nearly three quar­ters of sur­vey re­spon­dents that a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign is nec­es­sary and those ef­forts should tar­get young driv­ers who are more likely to be reg­u­lar users of pot, she said.

Nearly 75 per cent of re­spon­dents ei­ther strongly sup­port or some­what sup­port stricter penal­ties for drug-im­paired driv­ers.

“Things like fines and sus­pen­sions (are) ways of in­flu­enc­ing peo­ple to rec­og­nize not to drive while un­der the in­flu­ence of mar­i­juana,” she said.

The poll found that 77 per cent of re­spon­dents are con­cerned about road safety when mar­i­juana is le­gal­ized on July 1, 2018.

On­tario Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Steven Del Duca has pre­vi­ously said pro­posed changes to On­tario’s road safety laws would align drug and al­co­hol im­paired driv­ing of­fences across the prov­ince.

The new leg­is­la­tion would also in­crease penal­ties for driv­ers who fail or refuse to pro­vide a sam­ple for a road­side test.

“I be­lieve that the leg­is­la­tion is strong and de­ci­sive,” Del Duca said. “I will say, I have con­cerns. I have con­cerns about all forms of im­pair­ment and dis­trac­tion on our roads and high­ways at all times.”

Del Duca added that whether a per­son is us­ing mar­i­juana recre­ation­ally or medic­i­nally, they should not get be­hind the wheel.

“When a per­son is op­er­at­ing a ve­hi­cle they should be free of im­pair­ment at all times,” he said.


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