From the President:
Cannabis-impaired driving has become a top road safety concern amidst discussion about the proposed legalization of marijuana in Canada. Data sources that provide insight into the magnitude and characteristics of this problem are essential to inform discussion and shape legislation, policy and programs to address it.
The presence of drugs among drivers killed in road crashes is one important indicator of the problem. According to TIRF’s National Fatality Database, in 2013, almost 50% of fatally injured drivers that tested positive for drugs had used cannabis, and almost two-thirds of them were aged 35 and younger. Although positive tests do not necessarily indicate impairment, the prevalence of drugs in drivers killed in road crashes certainly warrants concern.
Data regarding the attitudes and self-reported behaviours of Canadian drivers also provide an important window on the problem. The Road Safety Monitor annual public opinion poll series has explored this topic for the past several years. These data revealed an increase in self-reported driving within two hours of using marijuana from 1.6% in 2013 to 2.6% in 2015, which represents an increase of 62.5%. While data from 2016 showed a small decline to 2.3%, preliminary data for 2017 suggest this percentage has increased above 2015 levels.
Collectively, these data underscore that there is much work needed to reduce this problem. The good news is that road safety organizations across the country are working to put in place public education about the impairing effects of marijuana on driving. However, much more work is needed to ensure that education is backed up by strong enforcement and proven tools to manage drug-impaired drivers.
Learn more about drug-impaired driving at www.druggeddriving.tirf.ca and recent TIRF reports available at www.tirf.ca.
TIRF President & CEO