As Canada approaches marijuana legalization many stakeholders have been raising serious concerns with drug impaired driving. A new Desjardins survey supports these concerns as the majority of Canadians (86%) are worried about drug impaired driving. In fact, 75% are concerned with progress in crucial areas like legislation, testing and awareness.

Most respondents (71%) believe there will be an increase in impaired driving when marijuana becomes legal and more (77%) still worry that there has not been enough driver education on the topic. In a new report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), the percentage of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana rose to 20.9% in 2015 from 15.9% in 2000.

When it comes to which age group is most associated with marijuana-impaired driving, 90% of respondents stated 16-34-year-olds. According to TIRF, the two biggest age brackets for fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana in 2015 were 16-19-year-old drivers (32.1%) and 20-34-year-old drivers (35.9%). Also, the percentage of 35 to 49-year-old drivers who tested positive is substantial at 16.9% and 14.9% among 50 to 64-year-old drivers.

According to Statistics Canada’s National Cannabis Survey, one out of every seven marijuana users with a valid driver’s licence is getting behind the wheel within two hours of consuming marijuana. This is especially alarming because Canadians are not confident that law enforcement has the means to deal with the challenge; 81% of respondents believe we lack the tools and resources necessary to identify marijuana-impaired drivers.

“As a leading insurer, committed to our communities, we have concerns regarding any form of impaired driving,” said Denis Dubois, President and Chief Operating Officer of Desjardins General Insurance Group. “Cannabis and drugs can impair your ability to stay focused and alert on the road. It endangers yourself and others and we firmly support laws against its consumption while behind the wheel.”

A collective effort
“Government, law enforcement and other stakeholders are all working hard to address this issue. This is a collective effort and Desjardins will continue to invest in awareness and education to mitigate injury and help save lives. We’ve always encouraged Canadians to drive responsibly and safely and we’ll continue to do so,” he added.

Marijuana isn’t the only drug-impaired driving Canadians are worried about. Three in four respondents are also concerned about those driving under the influence of prescription drugs:

  • One in six Canadians say they have driven under the influence of an over-the-counter drug (for example, medication that can cause drowsiness).
  • One Canadian driver out of five has driven at least once under the influence of a prescription drug.

Partners with a common goal
Desjardins works closely with national partners, like the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, to better inform Canadians about the risks of the road.

“Desjardins’ survey results are very much in line with other studies and illustrate the importance of education campaigns for the public and stakeholders alike,” says Dr. Ward Vanlaar, COO from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation. “That’s why we created the Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre, a web-based resource that summarizes the latest research about drug-impaired driving in several key areas.”

Desjardins is proud to share two additional resources that will help combat drug-impaired driving:

  • Drug-Impaired Driving Learning Centre is a web-based resource that was designed to share the latest research about the problem, increase awareness, and inform the development of effective strategies to tackle drug-impaired driving.
  • A new Traffic Injury Research Foundation report on Marijuana Use Among Drivers in Canada examines the role of marijuana in collisions involving fatally injured drivers between 2000 and 2015.

About the Survey
The online survey, conducted in March 2018, polled 3,020 respondents of driving age across Canada.

About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the fifth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of $290.1 billion. It has been rated one of the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Counted among the world’s strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF)
Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services for the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca.

SOURCE Desjardins Group

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