With recreational marijuana becoming legal in Nevada and other states in recent years, road safety officials have found an alarming trend.
Almost 70 percent of respondents to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said they think they won’t get caught by law enforcement while driving high on marijuana.
And an estimated 14.8 million drivers reported getting behind the wheel within one hour of using the drug in the preceding 30 days, according to AAA.
The survey data are from a sample of 2,582 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.
Despite the belief that driving high is not as dangerous as driving drunk, experts say there’s no difference in marijuana use and other distractions.
“Marijuana can significantly alter reaction times and impair a driver’s judgment. Yet many drivers don’t consider marijuana-impaired driving as risky as other behaviors like driving drunk or talking on the phone while driving,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It is important for everyone to understand that driving after recently using marijuana can put themselves and others at risk.”
When asked for data on the number of people charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, both the Metropolitan Police Department and the Clark County District Attorney’s office said they don’t have a way to differentiate pot-related DUIs from alcohol-related offenses.
The impairing effects of marijuana are usually experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug. Marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash, AAA said.
The survey found that 7 percent of Americans reported they approved of driving after recently using marijuana, compared with