Survey: Americans More Concerned About Drunk Driving Than Stoned Driving

By McCarton Ackerman 01/07/15

While public opinion may differ, driving under the influence of marijuana can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk.


Despite marijuana laws in several states either making recreational use legal for those over the age of 21, but Americans are still more concerned about drunk drivers behind the wheel than those who are drug-impaired.

The findings came from a recent survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Although nearly half of Americans believe that drug-impaired drivers are a bigger problem than they were three years ago, one in six of those surveyed believe it’s acceptable to drive one hour after using marijuana. They also reported feeling even less concerned over prescription drug use and driving, even though that can be just as dangerous, if not more so.

However, it’s still illegal to operate a boat or car under the influence of marijuana in Washington D.C., and most of the 17 states, which decriminalized or legalized pot possession also have similar policies. But while 85% of Americans support marijuana impairment laws, most are still unclear on impairment thresholds, safety implications and legal consequences for violating these laws.

Colorado has made an active effort to stop residents from driving while high. The “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign was spearheaded last March by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The initiative spent $1 million on television ads that took a more humorous approach to the issue, showing potheads struggle to perform basic activities like playing basketball or hanging a flat-screen TV. One ad showed a stoner trying to light a grill without realizing he’s missing the propane tank and features the tagline, “Grilling high is now legal. Driving to get the propane you forgot isn't.”

Out of the 61 impaired drivers arrested by the Colorado State Patrol in the first two months of the year in Colorado, 31 were found to be under the influence of marijuana. Washington also arrested 1,300 drivers in 2013 after they tested positive for marijuana, a 25% increase from last year. That number is only expected to rise now that marijuana use is actually legal in the state.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.