Does Marijuana Affect Driving Skills? – Verywell Mind
Using marijuana can impair your judgment, motor coordination, ability to concentrate, and slow your reaction time. Therefore, it can impair your driving skills. Anytime the skills needed to drive safely are impaired, even slightly, the chances of having an auto crash increase. Specifically, studies have found that marijuana use affects the driver’s concentration and ability to perceive time and distance.
This could play a factor in some of the statistics as well. Higher Levels, Higher Risks When drivers are involved in auto crashes, the drivers with THC in their blood are more likely to be the driver responsible for the accidents. This is compared to drivers who were not using drugs or alcohol.
They state that one in four drivers tested had THC in their system. Increases in driving while under the influence of marijuana are attributed to the recent legalization and popularization of medical and recreational cannabis in many U.S. states. Some drivers who use marijuana claim that smoking weed actually improves their concentration and therefore, their driving skills.
However, marijuana users can soon become weary, bored, or distracted and their attention can begin to drift. Problems With These Studies The NHTSA, CDC, and almost every researcher that studies this issue note that there are concerns with the marijuana-impaired driving statistics. One glaring problem is the testing procedures because THC can be detected in a person’s system for days or weeks at a time.
How Soon After Using Cannabis Is It Legal To Operate A Motor …
They may have smoked the day before or even earlier and the tests will still be positive. The CDC notes that multiple drugs in a person’s system make it difficult to determine which contributed to a crash. Also, drivers are not always tested for drugs, particularly if they already have an illegal blood alcohol concentration level.
The Risks Do Remain Despite these concerns, the research does show that marijuana impairs a person’s ability to drive. Also, though the laws vary by state, it is illegal to drive impaired in the United States. Using marijuana and driving while impaired can have serious legal consequences. In conclusion, the CDC says that “the safest option is not to have any alcohol or drugs in your system at all.”.
Kelkar, who had just bought a new car, knew he couldn’t risk getting pulled over for drinking and driving. Instead, he chose what he considered a “healthier and safer” alternative. Smoking weed and driving have been the stoner’s solution to getting high without having to leave the car behind ever since the Seth Rogen brand of movies made it cool.
Though he insists that any act that compromises a person’s spatial awareness and alertness while driving is morally wrong, Kelkar also believes he’s reached enough of a comfort level with the cannabis high to trust his stoned instincts. He’s not the only one. In a 2019 study by PSB Research and Buzzfeed News, half of Americans surveyed said they believed it was safe to smoke weed and drive.
Half Of Cannabis Users Think They Can Drive Safely While High
Also, while THC levels might spike as soon as a person has smoked a joint, their driving skills might not yet be impaired since they might not have reached their brain. Though countries like Canada have legal limits when it comes to the amount of THC that can be in a driver’s system, an anecdotal VICE investigation found that it was nonetheless confusing to both, the drivers and the authorities.
Despite the law stating that no one, not even a patient, is allowed to drive after consuming cannabis, the ambiguity of what is considered “low levels” provides a proverbial pothole for users. In Australia, roadside drug tests have often come back with false results, making people question their veracity. Meanwhile, in most countries in Asia, where weed is often socially acceptable but continues to be illegal and criminalized, these tests are impossible to administer.
This study did mention that the same effects were not recorded in medical marijuana users, and even said it wasn’t a decisive conclusion. Still, there is enough medical evidence to suggest that weed, just like alcohol, does affect your actions.“Driving uses two parts of your brain: your conscious actions and cognitive actions,” Dr. Prashant Punia, a neurosurgeon based out of Pune, India, told VICE, explaining that instinctual actions from the conscious part of a person’s brain are affected more by alcohol than marijuana.
How Soon After Using Cannabis Is It Legal To Operate A Motor …
Most Americans think that driving while high on marijuana isn’t that dangerous, according to a recent Gallup poll. About 70 percent of people polled said that people who drive while impaired by marijuana are “not much of a problem” or only a “somewhat serious problem,” whereas just 29 percent said it was a very serious problem.
Those in the 79 percent group are right about the dangers of alcohol: In 2013, nearly a third of all fatal accidents were caused by alcohol impairment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But is it really safe to drive while high on marijuana? Though marijuana does impair driving abilities, there aren’t data that show that it may increase traffic accidents, said Benjamin Hansen, an economist at the University of Oregon in Eugene and at the National Bureau of Economic Research, who has studied marijuana legalization in relation to driving accidents.
[11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]To be perfectly clear: It’s always safer to drive when you’re not stoned, Hansen said. A review of 60 studies presented in 1995 at the International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety found that marijuana impairs all the cognitive abilities needed for safe driving, including tracking, motor coordination, visual function and divided attention.
The cognitive impairments caused by marijuana are correlated with only modest reductions in driving performance in driving simulations, according to a 2009 study in the American Journal of Addictions. And in a study published June 23 in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that people who used vaporized marijuana were more likely to weave within their own lane, than people who were sober, but not more likely to weave out of their lane or speed.
Driving With A Marijuana High: How Dangerous Is It? – Live …
The tie between marijuana and traffic accidents is even shakier. For example, although a 2010 study in the journal Public Health Reports found that 11 percent of drivers killed in accidents had taken at least one drug, the link to marijuana is unclear. Those drivers were not necessarily using marijuana, and even if they had the drug in their systems, that doesn’t mean they were high at the time of the accident, Hansen said.
In traffic-fatality studies, any amount of THC in the blood, no matter how tiny, counts as a positive drug test. So at least some of the people whose deaths are counted in such studies may not have been high at the time of the accident, Hansen said. What’s more, some studies suggest marijuana users can effectively compensate for their impairments.