High behind the wheel: Survey shows ‘alarming trends’ in cannabis-impaired driving

Click to play video: 'Disturbing findings in new CAA survey find cannabis-impaired driving on the rise'
Disturbing findings in new CAA survey find cannabis-impaired driving on the rise
As Catherine McDonald reports, the husband of an Oakville woman killed by a drug-impaired driver is speaking out on the third anniversary of his wife’s death – Nov 30, 2023

Just days before the anniversary of his wife’s death at the hands of a drug-impaired driver, Ching Mac reflects on new survey results from CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) that show “alarming trends” in cannabis-impaired driving, specifically involving edibles.

Louise Whiten, speech pathologist and mother of two, was out walking her family’s new puppy in broad daylight on Dec. 3, 2020, when she was struck and killed by a driver who would later be convicted of drug-impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death.

“[Louise] went for a walk with our new puppy, that was at 2 p.m., and she never came home,” Mac said.

According to the new survey from CAA, conducted this year, about 750,000 Ontario drivers admitted to driving after having some form of cannabis in the past three months.

The results also showed that 38 per cent of people driving under the influence of cannabis in Ontario ate edibles before driving. That’s a 12 per cent increase from 2022, and more than double the 2019 rate.

Story continues below advertisement

“I don’t understand why people can’t put two and two together,” Mac said. “People don’t drink and drive anymore because of years and years of awareness… but yet cannabis is still not treated the same way.”

Ching Mac lost his wife, 51-year-old Louise Whiten, almost three years ago after she was killed by a drug-impaired driver. Catherine McDonald / Global News

Michael Stewart, community relations consultant for CAA SCO, said edibles are typically harder to detect and can take up to two hours for the effects to kick in.

Get the latest National news. Sent to your email, every day.

“Despite the misconception that cannabis may not impair driving ability, it affects coordination, reaction time, attention, judgement, and decision-making,” he said.

CAA SCO said collisions caused by impaired driving rose this year to six per cent, an increase from four per cent last year.

Stewart said while edibles are now a legal substance, they still inhibit one’s ability to drive responsibly.

Story continues below advertisement

As the holidays approach, Mac is urging people to consider all their options before getting behind the wheel if they have consumed alcohol or marijuana at an event.

“Call friends, call family, find different ways of getting yourself home from holiday gatherings,” he said. “The impact on you, on the victims, on everyone, you change people’s lives forever, for the worse.”

Sponsored content