Pubdate: Fri, 10 Feb 2006
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 The Toronto Star
Author: Andrea Gordon, Family Issues Reporter
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


You can't talk about teens driving without talking about drugs,

Today's young drivers have grown up in an era where drinking and
driving is frowned upon socially. But when it comes to drug use,
particularly if it's marijuana, the most commonly used drug next to
alcohol, it's not the same.

In 2003, the Ontario Student Drug Use Survey found that 20 per cent of
drivers in grades 10 to 12 admitted to driving within an hour of
smoking pot, compared to 14 per cent who said they had driven after
consuming two drinks. That's the first time drug use before driving
surpassed alcohol use and driving.

"You know where we are with drugs and driving and teens? Where we were
with alcohol in the '80s," says MADD Canada's Andrew Murie.

Alcohol is still a factor in 40 per cent of deaths from car crashes
among kids age 16 to 19, but that's a significant drop from about 70
per cent in the early 1980s.

Research collected by Transport Canada shows cannabis use can impair
safe driving skills such as focus and motor skills.

Still, marijuana use is rising among youth, and kids aren't getting
the message that they shouldn't smoke and drive, says Murie.

At the same time, evidence shows many combine cannabis with alcohol,
compounding the hazards.

One issue is while drug-impaired driving is a Criminal Code offence,
bodily-fluid tests are voluntary. Police officers are now being
trained in drug recognition for outward signs of impairment, but there
isn't a simple device like the roadside Breathalyzer to check drug

There is also not enough data, since drivers who die are automatically
tested for blood-alcohol levels, but not necessarily for drugs, Murie

MADD has been pushing for tighter drug-impaired driving legislation.
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