Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Driving high - Just over one in every ten Jamaican motorists drive after smoking ganja

Published:Sunday | May 14, 2017 | 5:57 AM

Ganja smokers, especially those who drink alcohol, are among Jamaica’s most deadly drivers.

The ganja smokers also received more traffic tickets, leaving in their wake the motorists who either send emails or texts, answer cellular phones or surf the Net while driving.

That’s one of the findings of a poll commissioned by Earl Jarrett, chairman of the Jamaica Automobile Association, and conducted by Johnson Survey Research Limited.

With a sample size of 1,000 drivers, the study found that drivers who confessed to smoking ganja before and while driving were involved in the most accidents in the last five years, at 44 per cent.

This was more than those who confessed to drinking alcohol before or while driving.

For Kenute Hare, director of the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport, there is nothing surprising about the findings, as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has almost become the norm among Jamaicans.

NO SURPRISE

“We are not surprised at the study because we picked that up on the ground from our roadsafety operations. Motorists are of the view, the cultural norm, that they can hold their liquor, hold their marijuana, and nothing will happen to them,” said Hare.

“Any form of drugs dumped into the body will have a negative reaction on coordination, reaction, and judgement. We have implored our motorists not to operate the motor vehicle under the influence of ganja, heroin, or any form of illicit substance.

“We have a lot of crashes occurring where we are not too certain of the drug level and the alcohol levels in the motorists’ bodies. This is something that we have to look at critically so that we can have serious empirical data about the relation between drugs and alcohol and traffic crashes,” added Hare.

At least 123 persons have died on the nation’s roads since the start of this year, compared to 144 in the corresponding period last year, but Hare is adamant that the number is still too high.