KAWARTHA LAKES-Officials say a recent survey conducted by CAA South Central Ontario reveals alarming trends indicating a significant rise in cannabis-impaired driving, particularly involving edibles. Key findings from the 2023 survey revealed that 38 per cent of cannabis-impaired drivers in Ontario consumed edibles before driving—a 12 per cent increase from the previous year and more than double the rate in 2019.
“The data shows us that while drivers primarily engage in cannabis-impaired driving after smoking a joint, the prevalence of driving under the influence of edibles is on the upswing, and that poses a greater risk to road safety,” says Michael Stewart, community relations consultant at CAA SCO. “Edibles are harder to detect and can take up to two hours for the effects to kick in.”
According to the survey, 7 per cent (approximately 750,000 Ontario drivers) admit to driving after consuming some form of cannabis in the past three months.
The survey also found that almost three-quarters (70 per cent) of the cannabis-impaired drivers admitted to getting behind the wheel within 3 hours of consumption, and nearly half (45 per cent) have felt high while driving.
“Despite the misconception that cannabis may not impair driving ability, it affects coordination, reaction time, attention, judgment, and decision-making. We want to emphasize our commitment to public education, urging motorists to stay informed about the risks and penalties of impaired driving,” says Stewart.
Six per cent of Ontario drivers admit having been charged—an alarming doubling from the previous year. Collisions caused by impaired driving also rose to 6 per cent in 2023, compared to 4 per cent in the preceding year.
During this holiday season, CAA reminds drivers to make alternate arrangements, such as utilizing rideshare services, to ensure a safe journey home.
“While edibles may be legal, CAA emphasizes that they are incompatible with responsible driving,” adds Stewart.