Marijuana legalization and road safety: CAA-Quebec issues recommendations

QUEBEC CITY, Nov. 14, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ – Less than one year from the deadline established by the federal government as part of its plan to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, CAA‑Quebec is endorsing the recommendations made by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) in its study Marijuana & Driving: Policy Implications: we must further our knowledge and improve legislation and penalties to ensure safety on our roads.

The recommendations of the study, conducted for the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), include continuing research into the impacts of marijuana consumption on driving. The researchers believe that training more police officers to recognize driver impairment due to drugs, as well as purchasing detection kits, are further essential measures. Additionally, amendments to provincial legislation and penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs must be based on clear policy orientations from the federal government.

Concerns forwarded to the federal task force
The CAA has submitted the study to the federal Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation. In so doing, it seeks to raise politicians’ awareness of the importance of introducing the proper measures, and remind them that Canadians are concerned about the impact of legalization on road safety.

“A CAA survey has confirmed that 63% of Canadians fear that road safety is endangered,” says Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec’s Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. “In addition, a survey conducted by CAA-Quebec this past spring showed that an even higher proportion of Quebecers — 73% — are worried about the safety impacts. The government must take note of these concerns.”

Measurable impacts in the U.S.
The State of Washington legalized cannabis in 2012. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety, that decision had an immediate impact on traffic statistics in the state. The Foundation noted that:

  • “The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from 8 to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014;” and
  • “One in 6 drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana.”

“In CAA-Quebec’s opinion, the federal task force that is set to submit its report to the government in late November cannot ignore the concerns of Canadians, nor the results of the ‘test bed’ represented by the two U.S. states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Washington and Colorado. We are hoping for specific recommendations in terms of traffic safety,”  Ms. Gagnon concludes.

About CAA-Quebec
CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides all of its members with peace of mind by offering them high-quality automotive, travel, residential and insurance benefits, products and services. As a leading advocate for road safety at every stage of life, its actions and services in this area include child car-seat verification clinics, a school safety patroller program, and awareness activities for seniors as well as secondary school students.