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New AAA Foundation research shows an estimated 14.8 million Americans report driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days

An alarming finding shows that 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.1 And marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.2

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The AAA Position: Marijuana’s Effect on Driving

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety analyzed cannabis use by drivers in one of those states, Washington, and found that the proportion of drivers involved in fatal crashes who had recently used marijuana more than doubled after Washington legalized the drug for recreational use. In addition, there’s currently no easy way to test whether a driver is impaired by marijuana: Unlike alcohol, it can’t be determined by breath or blood tests.

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Impaired Driving And Cannabis

Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug. Washington was one of the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and these findings serve as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug. 

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Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Marijuana: Beliefs and Behaviors, United States, 2013-2015

The purpose of this study was to provide estimates of the prevalence of self-reported use
and driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, and related perceptions and
beliefs among drivers 18 and older in the United States, and to present an analysis of
changes in these behaviors between 2013 and 2015. The data analyzed were collected via
nationally-representative surveys administered during this period.
From 2013-2015, an estimated 14.0 percent of drivers drove with a BAC close to or over the
legal limit in the past year, and 4.6 percent drove within an hour of using marijuana.
Drivers are divided with regard to their perceptions of the effect of using marijuana an hour
prior to driving on one’s risk of causing a crash: 58.3 percent believe this risk is increased,
6.2 percent believe it is not affected, 3.6 percent believe it is decreased, and 31.8 percent
indicated that they do not know how using marijuana an hour before driving affects crash
risk. Drivers who reported using marijuana, and those who reported driving within an hour
of use in the past year were less likely to believe that using marijuana increases crash risk,
and more likely to believe that such use does not affect or decreases crash risk. Awareness
of per se DUI laws for marijuana was low: in states that did have a per se law, only 48.5
percent were aware of it; in states without a per se law, 44.7 percent indicated incorrectly
that their state had such a law. Irrespective of whether their state actually had a per se law
for marijuana, more than half of all drivers reported that they did not know whether or not
their state had such a law.

Impacts of Alcohol and Marijuana on Driving
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Alcohol and Cannabis

Alcohol and Cannabis

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AAA Marijuana, Alcohol and Driving
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AAA Fatal Crash
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