A very interesting study was recently published that can help inform government and policy-makers on how to best prevent impaired driving.
The study, titled Motives for driving after cannabis use: A scoping review, addresses the motivations behind why people may drive after using Cannabis. Published in the journal of Transportation Research, the study looks at drivers from several countries and surveys their motives for driving after cannabis use.
In the end, the researchers identified thirty-two so-called “motives” for driving after having used cannabis. These were then distilled into six “themes” underscoring the motives: (1) general risk perception; (2) driving is the only possible option; (3) low risk given road or traffic conditions; (4) risk-seeking; (5) possibility to compensate for the effect of cannabis and (6) subjective norms.
Ultimately, the researchers determined that the perception of a low risk was the most common theme underlying why people chose to drive after using cannabis.
While the study was specific to cannabis and made findings about cannabis-impaired driving, its conclusions are also relevant to the prevention of impaired driving generally.
Certainly the conclusions about cannabis impairment are not necessarily relatable to alcohol. For example, the study found that for regular moderate users of cannabis, as well as for medical users in the maintenance phase, their perception of their impairment is accurate. That is, medical and moderate regular users are able to perceive when they are impaired and exercise good-decision making.
Even for occasional users, the study found that their perception of their degree of impairment is accurate if a few hours have passed since they last used cannabis.
The same is not true for alcohol. But the results of the study inform how educational campaigns can be crafted to address the dangers of impaired driving generally. By creating public messaging and public awareness campaigns within these four themes, the root causes of impaired driving can be targeted which may lead to greater prevention in the future.