Quebec PSA warns about dangers of driving while high on marijuana

Screenshot from YouTube.

A new campaign aimed at keeping drivers sober in Quebec is highlighting the potential risks of driving while under the influence of marijuana.

With marijuana legalization around the corner thanks to the federal government, provinces are now left to decide how they will keep impaired drivers off the road.

The Quebec Crown corporation known as the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), which is responsible for licensing drivers and vehicles in the province, is getting a jump start on spreading the word about driving while high before the drug becomes legal.

The SAAQ is using the power of television advertisements and social media to share their message that marijuana increases reaction times, which can have potentially deadly consequences if you’re driving a vehicle.

The public service announcement published Tuesday on YouTube shows two young men relaxing on the couch while smoking a joint and watching a hockey game. At the sound of a goal horn, the men have a three-second delayed reaction, which is counted aloud by an older man in uniform referred to as the “Capitaine.”

The following scene shows the men in a car and this time, the three-second delay results in a crash. The next shot shows fire and emergency officials working trying to get a response from the men in the vehicle involved in a collision while the captain counts past the three-second delay.

The message at the end of the video says, “Cannabis increases reaction time,” which the video description reveals the campaign “aims to educate drivers about the adverse effects of cannabis on driving, especially on longer reaction times.”

Some people online have pointed out that the ad does not appear to provide any facts to back the claim that marijuana use slows reaction times.

However, the SAAQ website says 30% of drivers between the ages of 16 to 24 who died in motor vehicle collisions from 2009 to 2013 had some form of drug in their blood, according to data from the Coroner’s Office. The SAAQ also notes that 100,000 drivers in Quebec admitted to driving a vehicle after using drugs.

Police officers are being trained to detect whether a driver is impaired by drug use, the SAAQ states online. Officers have several methods to aid in this determination by using options such as the gait test, a balance test or by simply observing physical symptoms of drug impairment, such as dilated pupils. Law enforcement officials can also take blood or saliva samples to be tested by toxicologists, if necessary.

Driving while impaired, whether it be alcohol, prescription pills or marijuana, is a criminal offence that can result in the suspension of a driver’s licence, hefty fines and even jail time.