It’s a well-known fact that statistics can be tweaked to achieve the desired outcome but studies have proved, and no-one can deny the fact, that smoking weed is not conducive to good driving.
Marijuana affects our ability to concentrate and also impairs our spatial concepts such as time and distance.Studies have shown that this lack of judgement when behind a steering wheel increases our chances two-fold of being involved in a motor accident.
One glaring flaw
But there is one glaring flaw in studies undertaken to establish marijuana use and accidents on the road – THC, the compound found in marijuana that makes us high, remains in the bloodstream for days or even weeks after consumption and there is no equipment available to law enforcement officers that can establish how long before a driver with THC in the bloodstream who is involved in an infringement on the roadingested weed.
Marijuana and road use
Impaired judgment after ingesting marijuana can result in:
- Lack of concentration
- Sluggish reactions
- Inability to perceive distance and time
- Misreading road signs
Weed increases the chance of an accident
More than one research group has uncovered a direct link between THC and impaired driving skills, leading to the increased risk of being involved in a motor accident. They estimate that the risk of serious injury or even death doubles when driving after using marijuana. Researchers have pinpointed teenagers and men in their 20s as the high-risk group.
But the greatest risk, according to researchers, is when a driver combines alcohol with weed.
Statistics remain skewered
However, statistics remain skewered because drivers are seldom tested for drugs in their bloodstream when pulled over for driving under the influence of alcohol.
A case-control study that was conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) could not find any sign of an increased accident risk in the use of cannabis and a driver’s age, gender, race, and presence of alcohol in the bloodstream. In fact, the study found that road accidents combined with marijuana use could actually be lower than the statistics named by other study groups.
Stoned drivers are on the increase
The NHTSA also noted that fatal accidents involving drugs and alcohol attributed for only 11 percent but conceded that drivers testing positive for cannabis is on the increase. They attribute cannabis legalization to the increasing numbers of drivers testing positive for THC – a figure that is placed at one in four.
There are drivers who claim that after smoking weed their concentration levels improve but researchers dispute this sentiment, pointing out that a few minutes after ingesting marijuana drivers become tired, bored and suffer from attention deficit.
No matter how many studies into accident rates attributed to cannabis use, researchers admit that statistics are flawed.
One of the biggest issues is proving the claim that marijuana contributes to road accidents because THC remains in bloodstreams for days or even weeks after ingestion, thwarting attempts to prove that weed is definitely the cause of serious or even fatal accidents. Further complicating the issue is the fact that drivers are not always tested for drugs if they are driving under the influence of alcohol. These factors all contribute to clouding the factual findings of research groups.
But no matter how sceptical one is that weed is an accelerant to bad driving, the fact remains that research has proved that marijuana impairs driving ability. So, although the laws vary from one State to another, there is only one way in which to avoid being involved in a road accident after smoking weed – don’t do it and certainly don’t mix marijuana with alcohol.