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Cross-border personal injury: Are cannabis users better drivers?

A 2018 study showed that more than 50% of respondents nationwide, including British Columbia, admitted to driving vehicles while under the influence of cannabis. Moreover, most believed that, after using cannabis, their driving skills are better than that of sober, non-cannabis users. Recovering damages could be complicated when a cannabis-impaired driver causes a cross-border personal injury.

The Canadian Automobile Association says cannabis users believe they are safer drivers because the substance makes them more relaxed. Safety authorities say cannabis use can impair a driver’s perception of time, distance and speed. Furthermore, it affects concentration ability and significantly slows down reaction times. Quick reactions are required when other drivers unexpectedly change lanes or a pedestrian steps into the roadway.

The International Council on Alcohol, Drugs & Traffic Safety says its 2013 study showed that severe injuries and death are twice, or even four times more likely, after consuming cannabis. The risk of accident fatalities is as much as 40 times higher for drivers who consume both cannabis and alcohol. Further research, which is expected to be completed this year, is underway by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

The study will explore how THC, which is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, in the saliva and blood affect driving abilities, anticipation of road hazards and reaction times of cannabis users in a simulator. When British Columbia motorists are involved in auto accidents while they travel south of the border, recovering damages is twice as difficult. This is where the skills of a lawyer who is registered to work in both countries can be an invaluable asset. Such a lawyer can deal with the insurance laws and civil justice system of both British Columbia and Washington state.