High driving statistics

22.7 million American adults think it's safe to drive under the influence of cannabis.

Almost 1 in 10 (8.9%) American adults say it’s safe to drive under the influence of cannabis, according to a survey conducted by Finder.com. Not only do nearly 23 million American adults think that it’s safe to drive under the influence, an additional 31.6 million (12.4%) of adults think that there are safe levels of high driving depending on the driver’s THC levels.

While it is a little concerning that around 1 in 5 American adults think it’s OK to be behind the wheel after smoking a bowl, the vast majority (78.7%) do think that it’s a bad idea. Of the 200 million who think that it’s unsafe, 63.90% believe it is as unsafe as drunk driving.

However, while 13.55% say it’s not safe for drivers to smoke weed before driving, they do believe that driving high is safer than drunk driving, with only 1.25% thinking that being drunk behind the wheel is the safer option.

Do you believe it is safe to drive under the influence of cannabis?

Men slightly more likely to high drive than women

While both men and women are mostly out on the idea of high driving being a good idea, slightly more men than women think that it’s OK to get high and drive, with 10.64% of men saying it’s fine, with only 8.46% of women saying the same.

The largest discrepancy between the sexes is related to whether or not drunk and high driving are as dangerous as each other, with more women (63.56%) than men (60.64%) believing so.

Do you believe it is safe to drive under the influence of cannabis? – by gender

Youngest Americans the least likely to think it’s safe to get high and drive

Apparently wisdom doesn’t always come with age, as it’s the youngest amongst us that are least likely to think it’s a good idea to get behind the wheel while high, with only 6.15% of those aged 18-24 thinking that it’s OK to drive while high.

Leading the way for those believing that it’s safe to drive high is actually middle-aged Americans, with 12.31% of 35–44 year olds and 11.4% 45–54 year olds saying it’s OK.

Do you believe it is safe to drive under the influence of cannabis? – by age

Does weed legalization cause more crashes?

Not according to the limited research that’s available.

A 2017 study looked at crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington following the legalization of weed for recreational use. It found no statistically relevant increase in the number of road fatalities involving high drivers compared to states where recreational weed was still illegal. Research over a longer time may produce more conclusive evidence.

Is driving riskier on the 4/20 weed holiday?

Maybe. Finder compared fatal accidents occurring on April 20th with accidents during the same time period in weeks on either side of 4/20. We found that there was a 21.57% increase in the chance of being involved in a fatal crash on 4/20 over the same day the previous week.

Although holiday weekends in general are known for a higher risk of car accidents, 4/20 is one of the single riskiest days to drive around.

Look at the stats for St. Patty’s Day. Close to 90 people were killed in accidents on St Patrick’s Day 2019, according to the NHTSA. While that’s a lot of people, our own findings reveal it’s well shy of the three most deadly holidays on American roads:

  • Memorial Day: 140 fatalities
  • 4/20 “Weed” Day: 140 fatalities
  • Veterans Day: 118 fatalities

Research indicates that April 20th is one of the most dangerous days to drive around on, even more than most other holidays.

What if weed isn’t legal in my state?

While fatal crashes across the US appear to have increased by 21.57% on 4/20 over the same day the previous week, there doesn’t appear to be much of a correlation between the legalization of weed and the chance of involvement in a fatal accident. In fact, a 2018 JAMA study using data from 1992 onwards showed the states that saw the highest risk increase on 4/20 were all states where recreational cannabis is still illegal: Georgia, New York and Texas.

Bottom line

Getting behind the wheel after toking or drinking is a bad idea. Not only do you put the lives of anyone on the road at risk (including yourself), but you run the risk of landing yourself in jail, losing your license and paying more for car insurance in the future.

If you plan to fire one up this 4/20, don’t drive. Take public transportation or rideshare.

Methodology

Our cannabis safety beliefs data is based on an online survey of 2,000 US adults over the age of 18 commissioned by Finder and conducted by Google Surveys from March 25, 2021, to April 7, 2021. Participants were users on websites in the Google Surveys Publisher Network and were unpaid.

We assume the participants in our survey represent the US population of 255.2 million Americans who are at least 18 years old according to the July 2019 US Census Bureau population estimate. This assumption is made at the 95% confidence level with a 2.2% margin of error.

Our survey asked respondents whether they believed it was safe to drive under the influence of cannabis with the possible selections:

  • Yes
  • Depends on the THC levels of the driver
  • No, but cannabis is safer than alcohol
  • No, but alcohol is safer than cannabis
  • No, alcohol and cannabis are equally unsafe

Holiday motor vehicle fatalities were determined by analysis of Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Holidays were determined based on single days, not holiday weekends.

Past studies

For media inquiries:

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Allan Givens
Public Relations Manager
203-818-2928
allan.givens@finder.com
/in/nicole-gallina/

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Nicole Gallina
Finance PR Strategist
347-677-4931
ngallina@finder.com
/in/nicole-gallina/

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