Motorists don’t think they’ll get arrested for driving high
Nearly 70% of Americans think it's unlikely a driver will get caught by police for driving while high on marijuana. An alarming finding from AAA shows that an estimated 14.8 million drivers report getting behind the wheel within one hour after using marijuana. The impairing effects of marijuana are usually experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug, and marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.
"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."
In the AAA Foundation survey, 7% of Americans reported they approved of driving after recently using marijuana – more than other dangerous behaviors like alcohol-impaired driving (1.6%), drowsy driving (1.7%), and prescription drug-impaired driving (3%).
Other survey findings show that:
- 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.
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%.
Just because a drug is legal in some states 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.