One in five millennials think they drive same or better when high: BCAA survey

New awareness campaign aims to stigmatize the behaviour

A survey of B.C. drivers aged 18-34 reveals that 20 per cent think they drive the same or even better when high.

The survey was conducted in June on behalf of the British Columbia Auto Association (BCAA). BCAA is highlighting the findings as part of a new awareness campaign around impaired driving ahead of cannabis legalization on October 17. However, a second BCAA survey shows how millennials have the potential to lead all generations in high-driving prevention.

Read: Could drug-impaired driving laws lead to wrongful arrests?

The new BCAA survey conducted by Innovative Research with 18-34 year-old BC drivers reveals:

  • 91 per cent make plans for a safe ride home before a night out.
  • 88 per cent would never consider driving impaired.
  • 78 per cent saying they would “call out” friends considering driving impaired.
  • 72 per cent have been designated drivers over the last three years, with 55% doing it regularly.

Read: Cultivating medical cannabis…at home

“Millennials have a special place in history,” says Shawn Pettipas, BCAA’s Director of Community Engagement. “This generation grew up surrounded by impaired driving messages on TV, radio and in school. They’re the first generation who got behind the wheel appreciating the risks, and who made impaired driving socially unacceptable. What we want is for people to understand that high driving is also impaired driving, and for all millennials to add that into their set of values.”

The survey results show most millennials have already adopted cannabis into their definition of impaired driving. The survey revealed 82 per cent of 18-34 year-olds consider driving on cannabis as impaired and 74 per cent think high driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. When it comes to mixing the two, 90 per cent view it as “definitely impaired.”

Read: Nova Scotia cannabis legislation sets fines, syncs weed and alcohol penalties

Pettipas sees a unique opportunity for millennials to take a leadership role to prevent their peers and other generations from driving high; and to make high driving socially unacceptable, the same way they did with drunk driving. In fact, the BCAA survey shows that some millennials already see that leadership potential, with 49 per cent considering themselves the “sober driving generation” and 40 per cent agreeing that they are “role models for not driving impaired.”

Read: Distracted driving overtakes drunk driving as top road safety concern: survey

BCAA is exploring this theme in its new public awareness campaign that uses role reversal to show millennials who understand that high driving is impaired driving help their parents get home safely after getting high. The campaign is running on TV, online, through social media channels and in movie theatres in the months leading up to legalization.

“We’re entering a new era in road safety and can learn from the past to ensure we’re all safe once cannabis is made legal,” says Shom Sen, BCAA’s president & CEO. “BCAA wants to keep British Columbians informed about the effects of cannabis on driving and help the province navigate safely through this turning point in Canadian history.”

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