Although there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the issue of driving stoned, a new federal study, which concludes that smoking weed before getting behind the wheel does not lead to an increased risk for car crashes, could force lawmakers to reexamine policies for drugged driving.
Researchers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently set out on a 20-month-long mission to dissect the sobriety of some 9,000 motorists for their latest “Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers” report. While the results of the study explicitly determined that alcohol continues to be a leading contributor in the realm of accidents of inebriation, there is no connection between driving under the influence of marijuana and an increased risk of roadside calamity.
With consideration to various demographic factors, like gender, age, and race, researchers suggest that the age of the driver plays a more significant role in car crashes than weed, even though pot smokers are 25% more likely to be involved in a accident than a sober driver. However, by contrast, booze is still the leading menace for motorists traveling along the great American landscape. The study finds that individuals with a Blood Alcohol Level of 0.08 (approximately one drink an hour for a person of average weight) are more than 12 times more likely to wreak havoc on the nation’s roadways.
The study, which is the largest conducted in the past 40 years, defines marijuana intoxication as any driver testing positive for THC. However, on the basis of insignificance, researchers did not take into consideration the geography of the motorist, so it is not known whether or not the participants resided in a state with a legal framework.
Federal officials believe the results of the study should encourage additional research on marijuana and how it correlates to drugged driving in order to ensure the laws make sense in states where it is legal.
“Drivers should never get behind the wheel impaired, and we know that marijuana impairs judgment, reaction times and awareness,” Jeff Michael, NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and program development, said in a statement. “These findings highlight the importance of research to better understand how marijuana use affects drivers so states and communities can craft the best safety policies.”