Young Males Continue to Have Elevated Rates of Driving After Alcohol, Cannabis and Drug Use

OAKVILLE, Ontario, Sept. 19, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Young males, aged 18-34, continue to have higher than average rates of driving after consuming alcohol, cannabis or other drugs, according to MADD Canada’s third National Survey On Driving After Alcohol, Cannabis, Or Drug Use.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of MADD Canada, talked to 3,000 Canadians from the legal driving age to age 70 about their consumption of alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs, and whether they drove afterward while they believed that they were impaired. MADD Canada’s previous national surveys were released in July 2021 and March 2022.

While MADD Canada’s third survey did not reveal significant increases or decreases in the overall rate of driving after consumption, it did show a continued trend of elevated rates among the young males category.

“To be clear, it is not just young males who are driving after alcohol, cannabis, or other drug use; we are seeing it across all age groups,” said MADD Canada Legal Director Eric Dumschat. “However young males aged 18 to 34 have shown consistently higher rates of driving while they believed that they are impaired by these substances.”

  • Among the 71% of drivers who used alcohol in the past 30 days, 6% drove at least once in the past six months while they believed that they were impaired, with 45% drove with passengers. Among young males, 17% drove at least once in the past six months while they believed that they were impaired, and 76% drove with passengers.
  • Among the 30% of drivers who used cannabis in the past 30 days, 11% drove at least once in the past six months while they believed that they were impaired, and 55% drove with passengers. Among young males, 41% had consumed cannabis in the past 30 days, with 16% of those driving at least once in the past 6 months while they believed that they were impaired, and 69% drove with passengers.
  • Among the 13% of drivers who used an illicit drug, medication (prescribed or not) or other substance for recreational purposes or to get high in the past 30 days, 18% drove at least once in the past six months while they believed that they were impaired, and 58% drove with passengers. Among young males, 22% drove after consuming a drug, medication or other substance, with 24% of those driving at least once in the past 6 months while they believed that they were impaired, and 62% drove with passengers.

*It should be noted that the reported figures for young males driving with passengers on board when believing one is impaired by cannabis or an illicit drug, medication (prescribed or not) or other substance consumed for recreational purposes or to get high are based on very small sample sizes. Regardless, the figures for young men have been consistently higher across all three waves of this research.

“These results tell us that driving after alcohol, cannabis, or other drug use continues to be a problem among a sizeable portion of Canadians and represents a major risk on our roads,” said Mr. Dumschat. “We need to continue to look at legislative and policy measures that will address this problem, as well as ongoing education and awareness efforts, paying particular attention to young males.”

The rates of road fatalities are also higher among young males. According to MADD Canada’s statistics, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16 to 25 year olds, and alcohol and/or drugs are a factor in 55% of those crashes. Males account for 87% of the young fatally injured drinking drivers and 89% of the seriously injured drinking drivers.

The national surveys conducted by MADD Canada have also shown a consistently increased rate of individuals driving while they believed that they were impaired among people in households with children under 18 years old. For instance, among those respondents, 11% reported driving while they believed that they were impaired by alcohol; 16% reported driving while they believed that they were impaired by cannabis; and 29% reported driving while they believed that they were impaired by an illicit drug, medication (prescribed or not) or other drug used for recreational purposes or to get high. That compares to general population rates of 8% for alcohol, 11% for cannabis, and 19% for other drugs.

“We noticed this trend in our previous surveys and were interested to see whether it was a one-time finding or perhaps related to the pandemic,” said Mr. Dumschat. “But there has been a consistent elevation, which raises the opportunity to target this group for additional education and awareness.”

Locations Where People Drink Or Consume Cannabis Or Other Drugs

This survey included questions on where people were consuming alcohol, cannabis or drugs, medications (prescribed or not) or other substances for recreational purposes or to get high.

  • Among those who consumed alcohol in the past 30 days and drove while believing they were impaired, the top locations are: friend’s/relative’s home (46%), restaurant (40%), their own home (35%) or bar (32%).
  • Among those who consumed cannabis in the past 30 days and drove while believing they were impaired from smoking/vaping cannabis, the top locations are: their own home (61%), friend’s/relative’s home (42%), restaurant (29%) or party (26%).
  • Among those who consumed an illicit drug, medication (prescribed or not) or other substance for recreational purposes or to get high in the past 30 days and drove while believing they were impaired, the top locations are: their own home (59%), restaurant (32%), party (27%), or a friend’s/relative’s home (26%).

Misperceptions About Seriousness of Impaired Driving

Misperceptions about the seriousness of driving after consuming alcohol or cannabis continue.

  • Three in ten Canadians said that there is a big difference between driving after consuming alcohol and driving after consuming cannabis.
  • One in ten said that driving after consuming a few drinks, consuming cannabis, or consuming an illicit drug, medication (prescribed or not) or other substance for recreational purposes or to get high is no big deal.   

About The Survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 25 and June 10, 2022 on behalf of MADD Canada. For this survey, a sample of 3000 Canadians aged 18-70 with a valid driver’s licence was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting are employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population aged 18-70 of drinking age according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 2.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18-70 of drinking` age been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.


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