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Drugs and Road Safety

From a road safety perspective, cannabis is already second only to alcohol as the drug most frequently found among drivers involved in crashes and drivers charged with impaired driving. It is also the most frequent drug found mixed with alcohol usage in vehicle crashes.

Drugs and driving has been an issue in road safety public policy for decades and came to the forefront as a major issue of concern to Canadians, with the legalization of cannabis. CAA believes government and other stakeholders must focus their attention on making sure that drug-impaired driving driving frequency does not increase. We note that the state of technology to determine impairment is remains a work-in-progress. Equally important is polling that suggests that there is a lack of public education around the effects marijuana has on a driver’s ability to safely control their vehicle.

Cannabis & Road Safety: Policy Challenges

CAA funded a study that looks into the priorities that need to be addressed to reduce drugged driving

What Canadians Think


One in four Canadians think it is safe to drive less than 3 hours after smoking a joint. CAA research says that cannabis can affect your driving for at least 5 hours.


Approximately 1 in 5 (21%) Canadians say they have been a passenger in a vehicle where the driver had consumed marijuana.


Adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely to believe cannabis doesn’t affect their driving, with 16% saying that a driver under the influence of marijuana is the same, or better behind the wheel.

Source: CAA National polling (2018)

Submission to the Marijuana Task Force

Prior to legalization, there was research that suggested that with legalization there would be an increase in the frequency of marijuana-impaired driving. CAA recognized that there are many factors at play and that drug-impaired driving was already a significant factor facing road users today. Click below to read CAA’s submission to the Marijuana Task Force, chaired by MP Anne McLellan, in support of the Government’s consultation.


Cannabis & Road Safety: Policy Challenges

Prior to legalization, CAA funded a study conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation that looks into the priorities that need to be addressed and resolved to prevent and reduce drugged driving as the Federal Government legalizes marijuana. The priority areas included: research on the effect of cannabis on a driver, laws and penalties, implementation strategies for law enforcement, public perception on the effects of cannabis and education needed to debunk myths.

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