Scimex: A National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) internet poll of over 4,600 Australians has revealed that of those who have recently used cannabis, almost 70% have driven while still under the influence of the drug. With more than 2,200 respondents having used cannabis within the past 12 months, 16% indicated they have driven on a daily basis, within five hours of using. A further 25% have driven weekly or monthly, with some commenting they feel cannabis makes them slower and better drivers.
Dr Peter Gates, Senior Researcher at
NCPIC says these attitudes are not uncommon, but do directly contradict a
wealth of scientific research, "While many stoned drivers think
cannabis makes them slower and more careful, it's important to remember
it's not just speed that kills. We know cannabis use compromises
reaction time, decision-making, time and distance perception, short-term
memory, hand-eye coordination, and concentration while driving. This
can only mean your basic driving skills are dramatically diminished when
using cannabis – even if you're sitting under the speed limit."
While most Aussie drivers are aware of the consequences of
drink-driving, it seems the vast majority of cannabis users remain
ignorant or sceptical of the considerable dangers of driving while high.
Driving under the influence of cannabis increases the risk of motor
vehicle crashes by up to 300 percent, with the National Road Safety
Strategy 2011-2020 reporting an average of 7% of deaths on Australian
roads involve drivers under the influence of drugs.
In response to
these concerning figures, random roadside drug testing has been on the
rise in recent years, with more than 100,000 tests administered across
the country in the last 12 months alone. Despite this, NCPIC's survey
indicated people who drive under the influence of cannabis in
particular, are not aware of the rising likelihood of being tested, with
a quarter of them believing it very unlikely they'll be tested.
message here is two-fold," says Dr Gates. 'Firstly, drivers who have
used drugs like cannabis need to realise that despite their belief that
stoned and slow driving equates to safe driving, they are increasing the
risks to their own safety and to that of others. Secondly, if the risk
of crashing doesn't act as a big enough deterrent to them, losing their
license should. The growing focus on drug driving offences by state and
territory police means being caught is much more likely – with hefty
fines on the cards, as well as the loss of licence."
numbers should act as a wake-up call to all Australians on the road. If
you are considering driving after ANY cannabis use, you need to be aware
that there are very real consequences for your actions."
The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (based at the
University of New South Wales) has just launched its annual 'How dope is
your driving?' promotion, focused on addressing some of the myths that
are commonly associated with being stoned behind the wheel. The
promotion challenges drivers with their interactive online game to stay
on the road despite minimal coordination, blurred vision and reduced
reaction time. For more information about cannabis and driving or to
play the game, visit http://drive.ncpic.org.au/
currently have concerns or problems related to their cannabis use can
access the free National Cannabis Information and Helpline on 1800 30 40