More Americans believe texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of marijuana, a new survey shows. According to a Harris Poll conducted by Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, up to 98% of Americans believe texting while driving is dangerous. However, in comparison, 91% of Americans believe driving under the influence of marijuana is unsafe.
The effects of marijuana use include delayed reaction time as well as dizziness. These side effects can be a hazard to a driver on the road as well as to vehicles around them.
Approximately 40,000 people died as the result of motor vehicle accidents in 2016 alone. And nearly 52% of personal injury cases are related to these motor vehicle accidents.
However, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, few motor vehicle accidents have involved marijuana use despite increases in marijuana-related accidents. The reason for the lower percentage of perceived danger regarding driving under the influence could be due to these fewer accidents.
At any given daylight moment in the U.S., approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving. Texting while driving is the leading cause of one in four motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. alone. What’s more, a greater number of Americans own a phone and use social media compared to the number of those who use marijuana.
However, the use of marijuana on the roads is still worrisome. According to the Harris Poll, 6% of those who drive under the influence of marijuana were between the ages of 18 and 34. Additionally, 5% of that same age group were more likely to drive under the influence of marijuana than alcohol.
The growing legalization of marijuana across the U.S. shows the need for more research on the drug’s effects. Like alcohol, a level of impairment needs to be established to determine whether not a driver should be on the road.
“Public education and awareness at home and school are an important step to educating teens on the dangers of driving under the influence,” said senior vice president of policy development and research for PCI Robert Gordon.
“There have been extensive efforts to reduce crashes and deaths from driving under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving,” Gordon said to U.S. News. “We need to add driving under the influence of marijuana to the list of dangers on the road.”
Nearly 70% of parents have yet to discuss the effects of driving under the influence with their children, Gordon says. The increase in awareness about driving under the influence of alcohol has been an improvement. However, drivers need to know that the dangers of driving high are just as perilous as the dangers of driving drunk.