Young people continue to be the largest group of drivers who die in crashes and test positive for alcohol or drugs. The challenge is many youth do not consider driving under the influence of marijuana to be risky, unlike driving under the influence of alcohol. Some youth even believe that using marijuana makes them better drivers, but evidence clearly shows that it impairs driving ability.
Why impaired driving is a concern
According to the 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, 5% of youth aged 15–24 reported driving after using marijuana during the past year, compared to 9.4% after consuming alcohol.
Data from the National Fatality Database revealed that between 2000 and 2010, marijuana was the most common illicit drug present among fatally injured drivers aged 15–24 in Canada.
The 2011 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey revealed that individuals aged 15–24 were more likely to be passengers of an individual who had consumed alcohol or other drugs, rather than to drive impaired themselves. Riding with a driver who has used drugs or alcohol can lead to consequences just as tragic as driving while impaired.
Addressing impaired driving among youth
CCSA has conducted a series of reviews examining effective approaches to preventing drugged driving among youth. Key findings include:
Factual messaging created by youth ensures that information is believable and easily understood by youth.
Empowering youth to plan and create their own prevention initiatives can increase the effectiveness and reach of the message.
Parents, teachers, coaches and so on should talk to youth about impaired driving and discuss implications to encourage youth to think critically before making decisions.
Overall, more awareness campaigns that centre on youth are needed to deter them from driving while impaired, especially after using marijuana.