Poll on drug-impaired driving suggests more education needed, CAA says

OTTAWA — Newly released polling data about drug-impaired driving suggests more needs to be done to raise awareness of the dangers of getting behind the wheel while high.

The results from the Canadian Automobile Association found that just over one-fifth of all respondents in the online survey said they had either driven after consuming cannabis, or rode in a car with someone who had.

About one-quarter of respondents between the ages of 18-34 said they had been in a car where the driver had used cannabis.

The online panel survey of 1,517 Canadian by the firm Leger was conducted Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, but cannot be given a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

The results are similar to federal polling conducted just over two years ago, before the Trudeau Liberals legalized cannabis and launched public-awareness campaigns on the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

The CAA says the results of its survey suggest a need for more work on those campaigns, particularly during the holiday season.

In the lead-up to legalization last year, federal polling found just over one-quarter, or 28 per cent, of respondents reported operating a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis.

More than one-third in the same research report said they were a passenger in a car where the driver was affected by cannabis.

Of the respondents in the federal survey who had driven while under the influence of cannabis, 17 per cent believed driving after using cannabis didn’t pose a risk.

In the CAA survey, 15 per cent of respondents said a driver who had used cannabis was the same or better behind the wheel.

“The study’s findings regarding attitudes and perceptions tells us there is a need for more education,” Jeff Walker, CAA chief strategy officer, said in a statement.

“If you plan to consume cannabis this holiday season, don’t drive. Make an alternate arrangement just like you would for drinking.”

In the CAA poll, about nine in 10 respondents said it was extremely important to arrange a way home after drinking — such as a taxi, ride-hailing service or a designated driver — compared to about eight in 10 who believed the same for cannabis use.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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