According to the recently released Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), stoned drivers are safer than drunk drivers. The study demonstrated that drivers who tested positive for marijuana are at a notably lower risk for a car crash than drivers that drink alcohol. Cannabis consumers were also no more likely to be in an accident than drivers who hadn’t used any alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel.
The NHTSA study also notes that “the measurable presence of the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a driver’s system does not correspond with driver impairment like blood alcohol level does. (THC is the primary active ingredient in marijuana. It is responsible for the majority of the psychological effects of cannabis.
The NHTSA reports: “At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment.” This means once one has allowed for differences of gender and age, there is no significant difference between driving sober or stoned in terms of being at risk for a crash.
The study also points out that the results don’t demonstrates “that drug use by drivers is risk-free.” It notes that the project is limited in its scope and that the limitations “need to be carefully considered before more definitive conclusions about drug use and crash risk can be reached.”
The findings state that a driver’s risk of an auto accident while driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .05 or higher is almost seven times greater than the risk of a crash while the driver is sober. In comparison, chances of getting into a car crash while smoking marijuana is not statistically higher than driving when sober after one adjusts for the different demographic differences.
On the other hand, the study also noted that the most frequently detected drug is marijuana (second only to alcohol) in drivers who are in crashes. It also reported that drivers who test positive for THC were “25 percent more likely” to get into an automobile accident.
However once one accounts for other numerous characteristics that can be linked to an increase in crash risk (such as race, gender and age) the research reveals that the risk drops to almost zero in drivers who had smoked pot. It concludes: “This analysis shows that the significant increased risk of crash involvement associated with THC and illegal drugs . . . is not found after adjusting for these demographic variables”.
Stoned Drivers Safer Than Drunk Drivers