Pot driving always a bad idea

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 03:00 pm | Dan Singleton

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada has always been one of the country’s top promoters of alcohol-free motoring, encouraging anyone who partakes of alcoholic beverages to stay well away from the driver’s seat.

By raising public awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, and encouraging lawmakers to take an ever harder line with offenders, MADD has certainly saved countless lives and prevented serious injuries in every province and territory in Canada. No doubt about it, the organization’s efforts have provided a great and worthy community service.

Now, MADD has expanded its efforts to include pot smokers – encouraging people who use marijuana to never drive after smoking, both for their own safety and for the safety of the public at large.

“People think smoking pot is not as bad as alcohol,” said Denise Dubyk, MADD’s national president. “They both impair individuals and the crashes still happen.

“We’re very concerned with the mixed messages in the public about marijuana and other popular drugs. Young drivers need to realize the dangers of drug impaired driving, just as this generation of drivers has understood the dangers of alcohol and driving.”

While the message that alcohol impaired driving is wholly unacceptable has been spread far and wide for many years, the dangers of operating motor vehicles when stoned on pot are perhaps less widely known. And that’s something MADD wants to change.

The British Medical Journal recently published the results of an extensive survey conducted into the dangers of pot use by motorists in Great Britain.

The study found, among other things, that drivers who get behind the wheel up to three hours after smoking weed are twice as likely to get into motor vehicle collisions as those who drive pot-free.

With hundreds and hundreds of drunk driving deaths caused by drunk drivers across Canada every year, government and police agencies should certainly be encouraged to continue making the war on drunk driving a top priority.

With that said, the efforts of groups such as MADD to increase public awareness of the dangers of marijuana stoned driving will hopefully be all that is needed to make pot smokers do the right thing and stay away from the wheel.

However, if these renewed public awareness efforts fail to ensure that the general public, including people living in West Central Alberta, aren’t exposed to the dangers of stoned drivers, then more drastic measures may yet be called for.

Driving in this day and age is dangerous enough without having to worry about whether other drivers on the road are stoned on marijuana. So here’s the message - if you smoke up, don’t drive.


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