Almost one in five Albertans would consider drunk driving for a short distance on a quiet road, a new poll suggests.
The conclusion was based on a Mainstreet/Postmedia poll that asked nearly 2,500 people across the province several questions about driving under the influence.
“Only 14 per cent said they would consider it in Edmonton, while 18 per cent said they would consider it in Calgary. The highest number, 19 per cent, came from outside the two major cities,” Quito Maggi, President of Mainstreet Research, said.
When asked if the impaired driving incident happened in the past five years, 48 per cent said yes, 36 per cent said no, and 16 per cent weren’t sure.
The older the respondent, the more likely they were to say they had driven under the influence of alcohol. It was the same result when asked about driving under the influence of marijuana.
“Few Albertans say they have driven under the influence of marijuana – but those who have are primarily in Edmonton (eight per cent),” Maggi said.
“With legalized marijuana becoming the new normal sooner rather than later there are serious concerns about being able to properly detect impairment and educating the public about the risks of consuming marijuana before driving.”
The federal government is set to introduce legislation to legalize marijuana in spring 2017.
A survey recently conducted by the Canadian Automobile Association suggests 61 per cent of Albertans believe the move will lead to more dangerous roads.
The survey results, which were released last week, also suggests 63 per cent of Canadians – and 57 per cent of Albertans – predict an increase in impaired driving once marijuana is legalized in Canada. Sixty-one per cent of Canadians, and 59 per cent of Albertans, said marijuana is as much a threat, or greater, than alcohol when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
Of the Albertans who took the survey, 22 per cent said they think police are adequately prepared for the change.
“Unlike alcohol, where a tried-and-tested approach to measuring blood alcohol concentration offers an accurate read on impairment, the effects of marijuana can be difficult to quantify,” Jeff Kasbrick, VP of government and stakeholder relations with the Alberta Motor Association, said.
The CAA, in partnership with the AMA, is calling on the federal government to improve measures to recognize drug-impaired driving. The association also wants to see dedicated funding for public education campaigns on the dangers of driving while impaired.
According to the AMA, nearly one in five Canadians said they have driven high or have been in a vehicle with a drug-impaired driver.
When asked in the Mainstreet poll if they had ever been a passenger in a car when the driver was under the influence of alcohol, most Albertans said no. But of those who said yes, 61 per cent said the incident happened in the last five years.
The Mainstreet poll surveyed a random sample of 2,497 Albertans by Smart IVR on Nov. 12 and 13, with a margin of error: +/- 1.96%, 19 times out of 20.
The pollster said a mixture of landlines and cell phones were surveyed, and results were weighed by geography, age and gender based on the 2011 Canadian Census.
— With files from Caley Ramsay, Global News