Driving High: 5 Studies on Marijuana Motoring
Getting high behind the wheel. It's illegal. But it's hard to prove. (There's no breathalyzer). And you're gonna do it either way.
So the real question is, Is it safe?
Remarkably, science in the field of stoned motoring is all over the place. Some academics contend you're actually a better driver when you're a marijuana user. Others seem to say you're sure to die. Here are five prominent studies on blazing trails on four wheels. You decide:
Stoned driving is dangerous!
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We'll start with the most-Debbie Downer study: Researchers at Dalhousie University say those who smoke weed and get behind the wheel within three hours of such debauchery are twice as likely to crash as sober drivers. Not only that, but the research, published in the British Medical Journal, claims to be the most thorough because it controlled for other, motorist-impairing factors such as alcohol. Believe it?
A lot of you do it.
More bad news (or maybe it's good, depending): You people are driving stoned a lot! Seems to coincide with the rapid spread of pot shops in California in the last five years, if you ask us. The state Office of Traffic Safety says ...
... 30 percent of all drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in California in 2010 tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs, a percentage that has been increasing since 2006.
And you know what the drug of choice is there. Not only that, but in some cases in California, the OTS says, more people have been caught with pot in their blood than alcohol.
Even kids do it.
A Mutual Liberty Insurance / Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) survey released last month says that nearly 1 in 5 -- 1 in 5! -- teen drivers admit to driving while high. And more than one-third of those say, So what:
More than one-third (36 percent) of teens who have driven after using marijuana say the drug presents no distraction to their driving.
Maybe they're just really good stoned teen drivers?
Manuel Martin Vicente
Stoners tend to stay off the road?
German researchers contend that these teens have nothing to worry about. Using data showing that "traffic fatalities fall by nearly 9 percent after the legalization of medical marijuana" in states such as California, this particular study says that stoners are less likely to go out and drink and party and thus drive home drunk and crash. The stoner, the research contends, stays home, where it's safe (and cozy):
If marijuana consumption typically takes place at home, then designating a driver for the trip back from a restaurant or bar becomes unnecessary ...
Makes sense. When you're high.
Stoners drive slower.
Our favorite stoned-driving study says pot smokers drive slower and more deliberately and thus are actually better motorists. Really. Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine published the research in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs:
The academics looked at 85 subjects who got behind the wheel stone-cold sober and then tried the same obstacle course after having smoked a joint and claimed to have found no difference. In fact, they found that the high motorists were slower and perhaps safer. But ... mix alcohol with that weed, the researchers said, and you have trouble.
Hope this has sparked a discussion.
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