Advertisement

26% of young Canadians admit driving high or riding with a cannabis-impaired driver: survey

Click to play video '26% of young Canadians have driven or been driven high: poll' 26% of young Canadians have driven or been driven high: poll
WATCH ABOVE: 26% of young Canadians have driven or been driven high, poll finds – Dec 27, 2019

More than one-quarter of young Canadians admit to recently driving under the influence of cannabis — or being in a vehicle while the driver was high —according to a survey by the Canadian Automobile Association.

The survey, released on Friday, found that 26 per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 made the admission.

While 86 per cent of young Canadians said they understood the importance of making alternate travel plans after consuming alcohol, only 70 per cent said the same about cannabis.

READ MORE: Heavy share of Canadian pot users admits to driving within 2 hours of toking up: study

The findings were relatively similar to last year’s survey, when 30 per cent of young people said they had either driven under the influence of cannabis or had been in the car with a high driver.

Story continues below advertisement

Kristine D’Arbelles, senior manager public affairs at CAA, said this points to a need for greater education on the risks of driving under the influence of cannabis.

“If you’re going to be going to a party and consuming alcohol, everyone already knows the social acceptability processes around that — you’re going to have to take an Uber, you’re going to have to stay over or take public transit,” she said.

“The same thing should be happening for cannabis.”

Click to play video 'What you need to know about marijuana edibles' What you need to know about marijuana edibles
What you need to know about marijuana edibles – Dec 16, 2019

D’Arbelles noted that public awareness campaigns surrounding the risks of drinking and driving have been around for considerably longer than ones about consuming cannabis.

“It look us three decades to get to a point where drinking and driving are completely socially unacceptable. I think the older and younger generations understand that today. Cannabis is not quite there,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“That’s why public education is so important, we don’t want it to take another three decades for cannabis driving to be socially unacceptable.”

The government of Canada website says driving under the influence of cannabis increases the risk of a car accident, and that even small amounts of the drug can lead to slow reaction time, lack of concentration, affect motor skills and impair short-term memory.

It also warns parents that young drivers are most likely to die in vehicle crashes and test positive for alcohol or drugs.

READ MORE: Canada’s new drug-impaired driving laws used mostly in small towns — or not at all

Carolyn Swinson, the director of victim services at the Toronto chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told Global News that parents need to have more honest conversations about the risks associated with cannabis.

She had that includes letting young Canadians know they can ask for help — or a ride.

“I tell kids you need to have an agreement with your parents that if you’re in a situation, whether it’s two or three o’clock in the morning, that you can phone that parent or a trusted person, and that they will get you home safe no questions asked,” Swinson said.

The CAA survey is just the latest that points to some Canadians driving under the influence of cannabis.

Story continues below advertisement

In the 2019 Canadian Cannabis Survey, 26 per cent of those who had consumed cannabis within the past year said they had driven a vehicle within two hours of smoking or vaping.

Sixteen per cent of those who used cannabis within the past year said they had driven within four hours of ingesting the drug.

Click to play video 'Study shows students driving after consuming cannabis' Study shows students driving after consuming cannabis
Study shows students driving after consuming cannabis – Oct 24, 2019

Twenty-eight per cent also said they had been a passenger in a vehicle while the driver was under the influence of cannabis.

Eighty per cent of those who admitted to driving hours after using cannabis most commonly said they did so because they did not feel impaired.

The second most common reason given, at 20 per cent, was that they believed they could still drive carefully. Nineteen per cent said they didn’t have to drive far.

Story continues below advertisement

Other reasons given for driving under the influence included no alternative transportation options or that individuals didn’t think they’d be caught.

Click to play video 'No difference in policing of impaired driving by marijuana, or alcohol: VPD' No difference in policing of impaired driving by marijuana, or alcohol: VPD
No difference in policing of impaired driving by marijuana, or alcohol: VPD – Oct 15, 2018

Swinson noted that there are myths associated with driving under the influence of cannabis that can prevent people from understanding that it carries the same dangers as alcohol.

“Mostly, it’s the belief that cannabis isn’t as dangerous as alcohol, and when it gets to driving people are actually better drivers driving under the influence of cannabis,” she explained.

“That’s dangerous thinking.”

The CAA survey cited in this article was based on a poll of more than 1,517 Canadians and was conducted between Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, 2019. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

Advertisement