SAAQ gets serious about driving high

The high-impact campaign is the latest to address the misconception that cannabis doesn't impair driving abilities.

Le Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) has taken its dramatic approach and applied it to driving while high, showing that any amount of cannabis is too much to get behind the wheel.

As with previous PSAs created for the SAAQ by Lg2 around subjects like drunk driving or texting behind the wheel, the video addresses driving under the influence of cannabis and opts for a high-impact, attention-grabbing approach. Three young men who seem to be lethargic see their hands turn into cannabis leaves, which distracts them enough to collide with another vehicle head-on.

The spot ends with the line “cannabis is stronger than you think,” the latest message attempting to dispel the public misconception that driving while high is not as serious or dangerous as driving drunk. A national study conducted by the CAA last year showed that 20% of drivers between 18- and 34-years-old believe they drive the same or better after consuming cannabis.

Many of those other campaigns, however, have attempted to get away from the “scare tactics” millennial audiences might recall from their youth, opting instead for a more humourous, less “lecturing” approach.

A PSA campaign launched last month by the Ontario Government (and created by McCann) tapped into some stoner cliches, showing how things like eating, dancing and applying makeup can get a bit more complicated even when you are “barely high,” making the implication that other tasks would get harder as well.

The Ontario Government’s campaign has a similar message to a campaign from the CAA last year, which showed that all abilities become impaired by cannabis. Last year, a pre-legalization campaign from the auto club’s British Columbia outpost flipped the script even further, using the insight that millennials are more likely to prepare a safe ride home to create a series of ads showing kids explaining to parents who have tried cannabis for the first time the dangers of driving high.