Substance use contributes to motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death among young adults. The current qualitative study examined perceptions of the acceptability and harms associated with driving after marijuana versus alcohol use in rural America. Illuminating rural perspectives is critical given that the motor vehicle fatality rate is twice as high in rural as in urban areas in the USA.
DESIGN AND METHODS:
In 2015-2016, 72 young adults aged 18-25 years (Mage = 20.2; 50.7% female) living in Montana, USA, participated in 11 focus groups. A list of descriptive codes was generated inductively and two individuals coded participant comments. Discussion, memoing and concept mapping were used to uncover broader themes and transcripts were reviewed for evidence of these themes.
There was shared consensus that, with regard to crash risk, driving after marijuana use was safer than driving after alcohol use. While alcohol was thought to impair driving ability universally, marijuana’s impacts depended on individual characteristics (e.g. compensatory behaviours) and the marijuana itself (e.g. type). Participants expressed conflicting beliefs about policies surrounding marijuana use and driving but were more knowledgeable about alcohol-related policies. Participants viewed older adults and those in frontier areas as more disapproving of driving after marijuana use.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS:
Misinformation about the consequences of driving after marijuana use is common, demonstrating the need for future research and educational interventions. Developing and disseminating guidelines for driving after marijuana use would help marijuana users make informed decisions and mitigate driving-related risks.
© 2018 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.
alcohol drinking; cannabis; driving under the influence; rural population; young adults
- PMID: 29464852
- DOI: 10.1111/dar.12686