With the upcoming legalization of cannabis, the majority of Canadians are concerned about cannabis-impaired drivers on the road. A recent poll conducted by Leger on behalf of Insurance Bureau ofCanada (IBC) found that 84% of Canadians believe that driving while high poses a real risk to road safety. The poll helped us confirm that the public is aware that alcohol-impairment is dangerous – however, the same understanding of cannabis impairment is not well established and we know very little about how mixing of alcohol, or other drugs, with cannabis, can affect impairment.
Legalization might normalize and increase cannabis use, resulting in a corresponding increase in the risk of harm due to impaired behaviours, especially as they relate to road safety. A recent study commissioned by Public Safety Canada found that 28% of 2,132 respondents admitted to having driven high, and of those, 17% believed the influence of cannabis posed no real risks. What is more troubling is that one in ten of those respondents believed cannabis makes a person a “better driver”.1
Even more startling is that the Leger poll found that 62% of Canadian cannabis users have either driven or been a passenger in a car where the driver had recently consumed cannabis.
“Drinking and driving is now socially unacceptable. Unfortunately we can’t assume the same for driving while under the use of cannabis. We need the same approach to deterrence – appropriate penalties and detection tools – to discourage all forms of impaired driving so that broader use of legalized cannabis doesn’t put public safety at risk,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, IBC.
The Leger poll found that:
- 79% of Canadians are concerned about cannabis-impaired drivers on the road once cannabis becomes legal.
- 84% of Canadians believe that driving while high poses a real risk.
- 70% of Canadians believe that driving while high is as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol.
- 43% of Canadians stated that they do not know how long to wait before it is safe to drive once they have consumed cannabis.
- 61% of Canadian cannabis users believe it’s safe to wait less than three hours after consuming cannabis to drive.
- 60% of Canadians believe that police will use a cannabis-impairment test equivalent to the breathalyzer.
“It is imperative for governments across Canada to invest sufficiently in comprehensive public safety and awareness frameworks that emphasize the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis,” said Forgeron. “In addition to approving drug-screening equipment, IBC encourages the federal government to ensure provinces and municipalities have sufficient resources to enforce cannabis-related impaired driving laws.”
IBC urges all drivers to treat cannabis like alcohol and recognize that driving under the influence of cannabis is the same as driving drunk. Impaired driving is dangerous and should be taboo – regardless of the substance consumed. For more information, visit www.ibc.ca/DontDriveHigh.
About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.
P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 126,000 Canadians, pays $9 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $54.7 billion.