AAA Survey: Millions of Americans Drive Stoned

A new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that, nationally, an estimated 14.8 million drivers report getting behind the wheel within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days.

The organization’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety, shows that more than 13% of Americans viewed driving within an hour after using marijuana as only “slightly dangerous” or “not dangerous at all.”

More drivers are underestimating the dangers of driving while high, that's according to a new study released from AAA.

More drivers are underestimating the dangers of driving while high, that's according to a new study released from AAA.

According to the study, 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.

“Marijuana can significantly alter reaction times and impair a driver’s judgment. Yet, many drivers don’t consider marijuana-impaired driving as risky as other behaviors like driving drunk or talking on the phone while driving,” said David Yang, the foundation’s executive director in a press release.

Other survey findings show that:

  • Nearly 70% of respondents think a driver is unlikely to be caught by the police when driving within an hour after using marijuana.

  • 7% of Americans say that 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%).

  • 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.

Programs like Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and the 50-State Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) were developed to train law enforcement officers around the country to more effectively recognize drug-impaired driving. There are currently more than 87,000 ARIDE and 8,300 DECP trained officers patrolling the nation’s roads. Additionally, the number of trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) has increased by 30% since 2013, and the number of drivers DREs have arrested for driving high has increased 20% since 2015.

The AAA survey data was sampled from 2,582 drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. To view the full Traffic Safety Culture Index, click here.


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