Earlier this year, a survey by State Farm found that 80% of Canadians were concerned about people driving the under the influence of marijuana - and as it turns out, they had a right to be.
The study also found that between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of alcohol-related traffic deaths in Canada had declined. TIRF’s National Fatality Database shows that almost 35% of fatally injured drivers tested positive for alcohol in 2000 compared to 12% who tested positive for marijuana.
In 2014, alcohol-related traffic deaths had dropped to 28%, while fatal marijuana-related accidents had increased to almost 19%.
“What we see is an increasing percentage of fatally injured drivers in Canada who tested positive for marijuana in recent years whereas the percentage who tested positive for alcohol is decreasing,” a research associate with TIRF said. “While the percent is still higher for alcohol today, if current trends continue, marijuana might become more prevalent among fatally injured drivers.”
As expected, the report notes that "results vary greatly by age". However, cannabis was the drug most commonly detected in deceased drivers aged 16 to 34.
With legalization of recreational weed in Canada set to take place next summer, the report's findings are no doubt worrying to some, especially considering the time of day and day of the week play a lesser role in predicting marijuana-related traffic deaths compared to alcohol, according to the study.
Robyn Robertson, President & CEO of TIRF, said 21% of drivers in fatal accidents tested positive for marijuana versus 17% in weekday crashes. In comparison, 46% of fatally injured drivers in weekend crashes tested positive for alcohol versus 26% in weekday crashes.
The solution? Education, according to State Farm and TIRF. They "recently launched a new resource, the Drug Impaired Driving Learning Centre (DIDLC), where stakeholders and the public can find the latest facts, research and information about this topic," a Media Relations spokesperson for State Farm Canada said.
In the meantime, stay safe by keeping an eye out on the road for impaired drivers.