AAA: Alcohol & Marijuana Major Factors in Dangerous Driving

According to data compiled by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who use both alcohol and marijuana are some of the most dangerous drivers on the road – significantly more likely to speed, text, intentionally run red lights, and drive aggressively compared to those who do not.

[Above photo by the Virginia DOT]

The AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index 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.

Photo by AAA

They also engage in various other dangerous driving behaviors far more than drivers who consume either just alcohol or abstain from either drinking alcohol or using marijuana, the group found.

Compared to alcohol-only users, drivers who admitted to using both alcohol and marijuana were more likely to report a variety of dangerous driving behaviors:

  • Speeding on residential streets: 55 percent vs. 35 percent alcohol-only
  • Aggressive driving: 52 percent vs. 28 percent alcohol-only
  • Intentional red-light running: 48 percent vs 32 percent alcohol-only
  • Texting while driving: 40 percent vs. 21 percent alcohol-only

“These data show 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, in a statement.

“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,” he added.

Photo by the Arizona DOT

This research – published in January 2021 in the peer-reviewed journal Transportation Research Record – also found drivers who neither drink alcohol nor use marijuana were considerably less likely to engage in the sorts of risky driving behaviors examined.

According to government data, alcohol and marijuana are the most widely used drugs in the United States – 139.8 million people aged 12 or older reported drinking alcohol in the past month, while 43.5 million reported using marijuana in the past year.

Additionally 18 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Concurrently, in 2021, 13 state legislatures are considering medical or adult-use marijuana legalization bills.

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