Despite a reduction in traffic stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, traffic crashes and fatalities are still on the rise, a phenomenon caused by drivers taking more risks on open roads. This includes head-on collisions, which can be particularly deadly, but a new AAA study finds that drivers who use both alcohol and marijuana are among the most dangerous on the road today.
According to the data stemming from the AAA study – the Traffic Safety Culture Index – drivers who use both marijuana and alcohol are significantly more likely to speed, text, intentionally run red lights, and drive aggressively than those who don’t. They also are far more likely to report driving under the influence of alcohol than those who consume only alcohol and not marijuana.
“This data shows the alarming impact of alcohol and marijuana use on the choices drivers make when they get behind the wheel,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “From choosing to drive while impaired, and speeding, to driving distracted or running red lights, using these two drugs leads to poor decision-making with potentially fatal consequences.”
The study found that drivers who use both marijuana and alcohol were significantly more prone to driving under the influence of alcohol versus those who only drink alcohol but do not use marijuana. Compared to alcohol-only users, drivers who admitted to using both were more likely to report such behaviors as speeding on residential streets, aggressive driving, intentional red-light running and texting while driving.
According to government data, alcohol and marijuana are the most widely used drugs in the United States – 139.8 million people ages 12 or older reported drinking alcohol in the past month, and 43.5 million reported using marijuana in the past year. Meanwhile, 17 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and in 2021, 14 state legislatures are considering medical or adult-use marijuana legalization bills.