Our wish has special resonance this year as we count down to the passing of Bill C-45 this summer, which will legalize the use of cannabis in Canada. As the leading advocate for road safety, CAA is working with all levels of government to keep our objective front and centre once the legalization comes into effect.
With each province left to determine how marijuana will be sold, used and legislated, we’re encouraged by Ontario’s recent decision to establish new rules that will toughen drug-impaired driving laws. The new measures (including a zero tolerance approach for young, novice and commercial drivers) will align with the existing penalties for impaired driving convictions.
That reality is particularly significant in light of the 2014 Ontario Collision Data, which indicates that 29% of all road fatalities involved drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, additional government data shows that 14.5% of randomly selected drivers tested positive for alcohol, drugs or both with cannabis being the most common drug found.
Ontario’s legislation may also come as good news to the 66% of respondents who told us that they expect to see an increase in marijuana-impaired driving and collisions after Bill C-45 comes into law.
The growing concern over road safety due to cannabis cannot be overstated. Our study, conducted by Ipsos last August, asked 1,000 Ontario drivers to share their thoughts on marijuana use, its potential impact on the roads and their suggestions on how to approach impaired driving policies and education strategies. The responses are compelling and will help us to validate our important work ahead.
Road safety is evidently on the minds of many Ontarians, as 77% of respondents said it will be a concern once cannabis is legalized. Still, over 485,000 drivers (two out of every 10 users) admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana in the last three months. In addition, while a significant portion of Ontario drivers surveyed (72%) believe that cannabis impairs one’s ability to drive, 17% don’t feel the drug can impact their capacity on the road. That belief can prove dangerous, possibly even fatal. This is the reason why CAA is dedicated to helping drivers to stay informed on the very real dangers of using cannabis before getting behind the wheel.