Survey Reveals Americans’ Perception of Marijuana-Impaired Driving and the Dangers Involved
WASHINGTON — A new survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), reveals that more Americans consider using social media (99%) and texting (98%) on a cell phone to be dangerous while driving than being under the influence of marijuana (91%). But while the vast majority of Americans (91%) believe driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous and a similar percentage (87%) say those who do so are a hazard to others on the road, just two in five (40%) believe it is contributing to more motor vehicle crashes. Distracted driving, which includes actions such as using a cell phone, talking to passengers, eating and adjusting the radio, tops the list as the number one perceived contributor (92%) to the increase in crashes across the country.
“Driving under the influence of marijuana is extremely dangerous,” said Robert Gordon, senior vice president, PCI. “In fact, driving under the influence of marijuana should be viewed with the same risks as drunk or distracted driving. When you’re high, it can impair your judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. We need more research, public awareness, and better public policy to reduce the dangers of marijuana-impaired driving and to make our roads less dangerous.”
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form (medical and/or recreational) and according to the Highway Loss Data Institute collision rates were about 3 percent higher in three states that have approved the sale of marijuana for recreational use - Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
While these laws allow for the use of marijuana, driving high is illegal. Evidence shows that marijuana use can impair critical abilities necessary for safe driving, such as divided attention, slow reaction time, lane tracking, and cognitive and executive functions.
The National Safety Council recently announced that we have seen the worst two-year escalation in auto fatalities in more than 50 years. Marijuana-impaired driving is one of the many factors believed to be contributing to the recent increase in auto crash frequency, particularly as more states liberalize their marijuana laws.
Yet, according to the new PCI poll, just 31% of parents have discussed the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana with their child, which pales in comparison to parents who have discussed:
· Wearing a seatbelt all/most of the time (67%)
· Texting while driving (60%)
· Speeding while driving (54%)
· Talking on cell phone while driving (50%)
· Using social media while driving (40%)
“Parents need to discuss the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana with their teenagers,” Gordon continued. “As more states liberalize their marijuana laws, it is critical that the public become more aware of the dangers of driving high. And that awareness campaign should start at home, with conversations between parents and their children about safe driving.”
Key Findings: Millennials
According to the new PCI poll, millennials (18-34) who drive are more likely to engage in dangerous driving than those in older age groups.