Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

CDC Finds 47 Percent Rise in Driving While High on Pot

Health + Wellness
CDC Finds 47 Percent Rise in Driving While High on Pot
An increasing number of Americans are taking the wheel under the influence of marijuana. JasonDoiy / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The Center for Disease Control's (CDC) latest survey found that an increasing number of Americans are taking the wheel under the influence of marijuana, according to a new report released on Thursday.


As the narcotic becomes more acceptable for recreational use and more widely available, there has been a substantial rise in the number of motorists who apparently feel disposed to drive after consuming it, as USA Today reported. In fact, the number of motorists who admitted to driving after inhaling or ingesting marijuana rose 47 percent over a 4-year span.

The data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 12 million people admitted to driving under the influence in 2018, which was 4.7 percent of all motorists, as USA Today reported.

In fact, the researchers found that in the 16-25 age group, the percentage of those driving after consuming weed more than tripled, from 3.2 percent to 10.8 percent, according to USA Today.

While that trend alarms public health officials, it is also small compared to the nearly 20.5 million people, or 8 percent of motorists, who admitted to driving after drinking, as CNN reported. The good news is, that number actually represents a decline in drunk driving. In 2014, 27.7 million motorists drove while impaired by alcohol.

Additionally, 2.3 million said they had driven under the influence of illicit drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine, which totaled 0.9 percent of motorists.

As a caveat, this is also self-reported data, which means the numbers may reflect a growing acceptance of marijuana so people are more willing to admit to consuming it as it becomes less taboo.

"Impaired driving is a serious public health concern that needs to be addressed to safeguard the health and safety of all who use the road," CDC researchers said, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The report found that the most likely group to drive under the influence of marijuana were non-Hispanic males, aged 21 to 25, followed by males aged 16-20. Narcotic use amongst younger drivers is of "special concern" according to the report since that demographic is the most inexperienced set of drivers and most prone to accidents, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The authors of the report found that the increased availability and accessibility to marijuana as more states legalize it for recreational use means public health officials need to develop methods to quickly identify if a driver is affected by pot or another narcotic, as CNN reported.

The researchers also believe there is a need for a nationwide standard for toxicology tests and a need for law enforcement and public health officials to improve their detection and prevention of impaired driving. Unlike the nationwide tests for detecting drunk-drivers through blood alcohol content, there is no nationwide standard for detecting drivers under the influence of drugs, as CNN reported.

"[E]ffective measures that deter driving under the influence of drugs are limited," researchers said, according to U.S. News and World Report.

"Any person who uses cannabis should not be operating a motor vehicle. Period,'' said Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, as USA Today reported. "It places themselves, other drivers and all pedestrians at risk for death and injury.''

However, Glatter added that he sees many more patients involved in crashes under the influence of alcohol rather than marijuana, which is commensurate with national statistics. Every year more than 100,000 Americans die in alcohol-related traffic accidents, according to USA Today. The CDC does not have a tally of marijuana-related traffic fatalities.

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch