As more and more states move to legalize marijuana for recreational and therapeutic use, the safety community is grappling with the threat of marijuana-impaired driving. The latest research indicates marijuana use and involvement in fatal crashes is growing. While safety practitioners and researchers work to grasp the full impacts of marijuana impairment behind the wheel, much work needs to be done in this area, and lawmakers have limited research evidence to provide guidance on effective countermeasures to address the issue.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has examined the traffic safety implications of marijuana legalization in Washington State and found an alarming increase in fatal crashes involving recent marijuana use.
The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from eight to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.
One in six Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana.
Washington was one of the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, so it serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience after liberalizing their marijuana laws. Learn more about the research here:
Cannabis Impaired Driving – What We Know
Marijuana has the potential to impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Marijuana can decrease car handling, performance and attention, while increasing reaction times, following distance, and lane departure.
Cannabis Impaired Driving – What It Means
Whether the use of marijuana is legal or not, all motorists should avoid driving while impaired. Just because a drug is legal to consume does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. If you get behind the wheel while you’re impaired by any substance, you put yourself, your passengers and all road users at risk.
Cannabis Impaired Driving – What Is AAA Doing
AAA is committed to educating motorists and the public about the risks of substance-impaired driving. AAA is initiating new research to improve understanding on the topic and is working collaboratively with safety stakeholders to reduce the impact of substance-impaired driving related crashes.
Read the studies on cannabis and driving by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
- Fatal Road Crashes Involving Marijuana Double After State Legalizes Drug
- Findings from Four AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Research Reports on Cannabis and Driving
- Prevalence of Marijuana Involvement in Fatal Crashes: Washington, 2010-2014
- Cannabis Use among Drivers Suspected of Driving Under the Influence or Involved in Collisions: Analysis of Washington State Patrol Data
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Marijuana: Beliefs and Behaviors, United States, 2013-2015