Despite study that shows U.S. traffic fatalities rise dramatically on 4/20 (“National Weed Day”), Americans don’t think there is danger on the roads
Overwhelming majority of marijuana users who have driven under the influence of marijuana admit to doing so within two hours of using the drug
WASHINGTON — A new survey of over 1,000 U.S. adults, conducted online by SurveyMonkey on behalf of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), reveals that more than two thirds of Americans (68%) see no difference in road safety on April 20, also known as National Weed Day. This, despite the fact that a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that traffic fatalities were 12 percent more likely on April 20 after 4:20pm, the time the smoking celebration traditionally begins, than on the same day one week before or one week after.
National Weed Day is even more dangerous for young people according to the study in JAMA, which shows fatal crashes were 38 percent more likely for drivers under the age of 21 years old. However, according to the PCI survey, more than 50% of parents with teenagers at home said they have not spoken to their children about the dangers of driving high in the days leading up to April 20.
“Driving high is dangerous every day of the year, but the risk is even greater on April 20 when marijuana use is ‘celebrated’,” said Robert Gordon, PCI’s senior vice president of policy research and international. “As states continue to liberalize marijuana laws, Americans need to be better educated about the impact of driving under the influence of marijuana. It is a hazardous activity that jeopardizes everyone’s safety on the roads.”
The PCI survey also found that 20% of Americans say they have driven a car under the influence of marijuana, with 82% of those who have driven under the influence of marijuana admitting they drove either immediately or within two hours of using the drug.
Driving high is illegal and research shows that it can impair judgment of time and distance, decrease coordination, and increase weaving. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute collision rates were about 3 percent higher in three of the states that have approved the sale of marijuana for recreational use - Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
Overall, no matter what time of the year, the PCI survey found that Americans rank marijuana use at near the bottom of potentially dangerous driving activity. 41% of Americans believe talking to passengers is more or at least as dangerous as driving high, and 61% said marijuana use while driving is less or as dangerous as talking on a handheld cell phone.
Lastly, the PCI survey did find that 70% think the government should establish driving impairment standards for marijuana, similar to the blood alcohol level standards set for drinking and driving. Additionally, the same percentage of respondents (71%) support a field sobriety test for law enforcement to determine marijuana use.