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Americans: Texting and Driving More Dangerous Than Driving High

By Kelly Burch 12/01/17

According to a recent survey, only 40% of respondents believed that people who were driving high contributed to more car accidents.

a man in a red shirt texting and driving

More than half of Americans now have access to some form of legalized marijuana, whether recreationally or legally. With marijuana use on the rise among American adults, there has been a scramble to figure out ways to keep people who are using marijuana from getting behind the wheel.

Despite that, most Americans believe that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of cannabis, according to a recent survey. 

Ninety-one percent of survey respondents said that driving under the influence of marijuana was dangerous, but only 40% believed that people who were driving high contributed to more car accidents. However, 98% of respondents said that texting and driving was dangerous. 

Researchers have found that more drivers are operating under the influence of marijuana, but they have not conclusively tied that increase to a higher likelihood of being involved in an accident. At the same time, the groups that are most likely to use marijuana while driving (including teens) are the same groups that are most likely to be involved in accidents. However, there was no way to show cause rather than just correlation. 

Other research has indicated that crash rates are 3% higher in states with legalized marijuana, according to a CNBC report

"We're concerned about what we're seeing," said Matt Moore, senior vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute, which conducted the research. "We see strong evidence of an increased crash risk in states that have approved recreational marijuana sales."

About 12% of weekend nighttime drivers have marijuana in their system, according to research. Overall, about 6% of drivers ages 18 to 34 drive under the influence of marijuana, a rate that decreases with age. 

Robert Gordon, senior vice president of policy development and research for Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, which commissioned the study about danger perception, told U.S. News and World Report that there needs to be more conversation about operating under the influence of drugs, particularly marijuana. 

"Public education and awareness at home and school are an important step to educating teens on the dangers of driving under the influence. There have been extensive efforts to reduce crashes and deaths from driving under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving – we need to add driving under the influence of marijuana to the list of dangers on the road," Gordon said, noting that 70% of parents have not discussed driving under the influence of drugs with their children.

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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