Weed and Wheels Don't Mix
The federal government has announced that recreational cannabis will be legalized by July 1, 2018. This decision will undoubtedly impact truck drivers and their safety on the road.
The physical and mental effects of marijuana are numerous, including impaired concentration, slower reaction times, and poorer judgment. Not surprisingly, studies have shown that driving under the inﬂuence of marijuana elevates the risk of being involved in a crash.
In the US, states that have legalized recreational cannabis have already felt the effects on road safety. After the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2013, weed-related traffic deaths increased by 63 percent, while all traffic deaths increased by 11 percent. Washington also saw signiﬁcant increases in fatal crashes where pot was a factor. It is likely that similar statistics will prevail in Canada following the legislation change.
What can drivers do to stay safe? Those who intend to use weed recreationally in the future should be aware of relevant traffic laws. For example, in Colorado, it is illegal to drive with ﬁve or more nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in your whole blood. Since THC can remain in your blood for hours after initial consumption, drivers should allow sufficient time for the effects of cannabis to subside.
While drivers are limited in their capacity to prevent others from driving under the inﬂuence of marijuana, continued defensive driving is the best way to avoid an accident due to someone else’s impairment.