Getty Images Toronto Star Cannabis use is on the rise in the United States, with many drivers involved in fatal accidents testing positive for using it while behind the wheel during the pandemic.
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The new report aims to help states communicate more effectively with drivers about safe driving. Released Tuesday by the Governor’s Road Safety Council, Responsibility.org, and the National Alliance to Stop Impaired Driving, the report provides guidance on what messages are and aren’t effective, and how more effective education can help.
As legal cannabis use expands in the United States, drivers need to understand the dangers of drunk driving,” Governor Jonathan Adkins, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, said in a statement. “But if that message is outdated, irrelevant to cannabis users or offensive, it won’t be heard.
It provides a roadmap to help you create and encourages you not to drive for your own safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.”
Since 2011, 18 states have legalized recreational cannabis, and more states are expected to have legalization by November. In 2019, 18% of people aged 12 and older in the US reported having used cannabis in the past year, up from 11% in 2002.
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The report, “Cannabis Consumers and Safe Driving: Responsible Use Messaging,” comes as state security agencies face rapidly evolving challenges, including the legality, prevalence, and social norms of the drug`s use.
“There remains a significant discrepancy between people`s views on its use and safe driving,” the safety groups said, noting that some people believe cannabis use actually improves their driving skills, although “research confirms that cannabis directly affects parts of the brain.” responsible for attention, decision-making, coordination and reaction time, all of which are critical to safe driving.”
The report referred to a survey commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in which 95% of people said driving above the legal limit for blood alcohol (BAC) is very or extremely dangerous, but only 69% said they found it dangerous to drive within an hour of consuming cannabis.
According to the report, the number of road deaths involving the drug has risen during the Covid-19 pandemic: “Data from trauma centers indicated that 33% of drivers involved in fatal accidents had tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, in their system – a significant increase from 21% before the pandemic.
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Traffic deaths during the pandemic were slightly more likely to be caused by cannabis than by alcohol (33% cannabis vs. 29% alcohol). Multiple substance harm has also increased in recent years, with 25% of him in fatal crashes testing positive for multiple toxic substances, compared to 18% of him pre-pandemic.