AAA: Americans don’t think they’ll get arrested for driving high

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Nearly 70 percent of Americans think it’s unlikely a driver will get caught by police for driving while high on marijuana, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey.

Moreover, an estimated 14.8 million drivers report getting behind the wheel within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days.

The impairing effects of marijuana are usually experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug. And marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

“Despite marijuana’s effect on a driver’s judgment and reaction times, many driver’s don’t view driving high the same way they view behaviors like drunk or distracted driving,” says Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs for AAA East Central. “This misunderstanding can have deadly consequences, and motorists should familiarize themselves with the dangers of driving high.”

In the AAA Foundation survey, 7% of Americans reported they approved of driving after recently using marijuana — more than other dangerous behaviors like alcohol-impaired driving (1.6%), drowsy driving (1.7%), and prescription drug-impaired driving (3%). Other survey findings show that:

Millennials (nearly 14%) are most likely to report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days, followed by Generation Z (10%).

Men (8%) are more likely than women (5%) to report driving shortly after using marijuana in the past 30 days.

As marijuana legalization becomes more prevalent, law enforcement officials are getting more sophisticated in their methods for identifying marijuana-impaired drivers. Since 2015, the number of drivers arrested by DREs for using marijuana increased 20%.3

AAA recommends all motorists avoid driving while impaired by marijuana or any other drug (including alcohol) to avoid arrest and keep the roads safe. Just because a drug is legal does not mean it is safe to use while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired put themselves and others at risk. AAA recommend the following tips to avoid driving impaired:

Make transportation arrangements, such as:

• Designating a driver.

• Taking a cab or a ride share.

• Utilizing local public transit.

• Rent a hotel room or stay overnight at a friend’s home.

• If hosting a party, offer non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers.

• Take the car keys away from friends and relatives who are impaired.

About the survey

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,582 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days.

The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 79 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.

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