Driving under the influence (DUI) laws have long been associated with alcohol impairment, but it’s crucial to recognize that they extend to drugs, including marijuana.
The act of driving is a complex and demanding task that necessitates full attention, alertness, and a sound state of mind. Marijuana use influences various regions of the brain responsible for controlling crucial functions, including body movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment.
The Impairing Effects of Marijuana Use on Driving
Marijuana’s impact on driving safety can be significant, with impairments manifesting in several ways:
- Slowed Reaction Time and Decision-Making: Marijuana use can slow an individual’s reaction time and hinder their ability to make quick, critical decisions.
- Coordination Impairment: Coordination is adversely affected, making it challenging to perform precise and controlled movements while driving.
- Perception Distortion: Marijuana can distort an individual’s perception, making it challenging to gauge distances and accurately assess their surroundings while on the road.
Marijuana Use and Car Crashes
Studies have indicated a connection between acute marijuana use and an increased risk of car crashes. However, the precise relationship between the presence of marijuana or the concentration of its psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and impaired driving performance remains challenging to establish for individual cases.
It’s important to note that using multiple substances simultaneously, such as combining marijuana and alcohol, can exacerbate impairment and elevate the risks associated with smoking and driving.
The Risks of Driving High: Debunking Myths
Contrary to the belief that marijuana use is not dangerous, evidence suggests that it can have adverse effects on cognitive functions and, subsequently, driving safety.
Marijuana use has been linked to memory problems, reduced attention, difficulties in problem-solving, and the impairment of judgment, concentration, reaction time, and coordination. These impairments increase the risk of being involved in car crashes.
A notable study even found that drivers while driving high exhibit similar weaving in their lanes after marijuana use as they do after alcohol consumption.
A Concern for Young Drivers
Young drivers, already at risk due to their relative inexperience, face heightened danger when marijuana and alcohol are combined. Unlike alcohol, the body processes marijuana differently, with the effects varying based on factors such as the dose, strength, and method of consumption (smoking, vaping, or ingestion).
A concerning statistic highlights that over 9% of drivers aged 16 to 20 have admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana.
The Need for More Research
While alcohol remains the most common cause of impaired driving incidents across all age groups, driving stoned stands as the second most prevalent cause, according to government data. Yet, the precise relationship between marijuana use and its impact on road safety remains an ongoing subject of research.
Understanding the driving while high consequences and road safety, specifically the degree of impairment it induces, requires further research. Some studies have indicated an association between short-term cannabis intoxication and impaired driving ability.
However, this is a complex issue with varying results in different studies. The presence of cannabis in the bloodstream for an extended period after intoxication and differences in how it affects occasional versus regular users further complicate the research landscape.
Promoting Responsible Choices: Preventing Impaired Driving
Driving while high accidents abound! The safest choice in all honesty is to abstain from alcohol and weed when driving. Here are steps to consider if you are thinking about how to drive high or have already done so:
- Choose Not to Drive: Make the responsible choice to not be a stoned driver if you’ve used alcohol or drugs. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.
- Designate a Sober Driver: When going out with a group, designate a trusted driver who will refrain from alcohol or drug use.
- Arrange Alternative Transportation: Plan for a sober ride home. Utilize rideshare services, call a taxi, or secure a ride from someone who hasn’t been drinking or using drugs.
Preventing impaired driving requires responsible choices and a commitment to ensuring the safety of yourself and others on the road.