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NHTSA: Pot Usage Doesn’t Increase Crash Risk

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NHTSA: Pot Usage Doesn’t Increase Crash Risk

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently determined that a person driving under the influence of marijuana isn’t more likely to get into a car crash than a person sober or under the influence of alcohol. The Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk Study was conducted in Virginia Beach, Virginia over a 20-month period and included 9,000 drivers, alcohol, cannabis and illicit drug consumption. One-third or about 3,000 drivers studied were involved in crashes during the period and the other 6,000 were not.

Accident risk was strongly associated with alcohol consumption, as the threat of a crash from drivers with a blood-alcohol level content of 0.08 percent was twice as high as that of drivers that were sober. The rate of accidents tripled to six times as high for drivers with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 percent and 12 times as high if their blood-alcohol content was at 0.15 percent.

The findings for cannabis were quite different. Even though 25 percent of marijuana users were more likely to wreck than those that didn’t test positive for THC in their system, once factors such as gender, sex, age and race/ethnicity were calculated in the study, the ratio decreased drastically. The crash risk ratio was 1.25 before demographic factors were utilized in the study but was reduced to 1.05 — a decrease some consider significant.

The results showed that men are more likely to have an accident than women. In addition, teens are more likely to have accidents than adults, showing that crash risk may be more closely associated with their age or gender rather than pot usage.

Although these findings show that marijuana use doesn’t cause a substantial impact to crash risk, they don’t necessarily remove the stigma that smoking weed has no effect on motorists’ senses. In a congressional hearing over “drugged driving,” Jeff Michael, a representative of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was asked how many crash deaths were caused by pot every year.  Michael couldn’t give a definite answer, opting to affirm that the number wasn’t zero.

“Drivers should never get behind the wheel impaired and we know that marijuana impairs judgment, reaction times and awareness.”

With fewer drunk drivers on the road and the number of states with medical and recreational pot rising, the number of THC-positive drivers has increased considerably. Media outlets around the nation and numerous anti-pot advocates feel that drugged driving is the Satan-spawn of pot usage. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Highway fatalities are the lowest in Colorado history since the state legalized cannabis.

Despite report after report demonstrating that a rise in cannabis use doesn’t equal a rise in crime or accidents, there are many people against cannabis legalization because they fear it would cause safety problems in their state. Now, to further disprove the unwarranted fears of the uniformed, there’s a new study that’s recently been released to add to the accumulating information that shows cannabis isn’t as scary as some people think it is.

Do you drive while high? Do you think it impairs you? Tell us about it in the comments.



  1. Jordan :)

    March 17, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I’m young and have been smoking for only two years now on a daily, steady basis and while it does slow me down a tad (which definitely isn’t a bad thing), I have never been in an accident. It keeps me more focused and cautious on the road.

  2. Steve

    February 27, 2015 at 4:40 am

    36, smoking 16 years permanent, my reaction times are better, cause I do only driving. I have 0 accidents in this time. The biggest point i am from Germany, without speed limit. Results: much more focused on driving, no problems with that.

  3. Holt

    February 23, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Just like many medications there is time needed to adjust/get used to the side effects. Once a person is no longer impacted by the side effects, it becomes safe to drive, etc…

    People who have little to no experience with cannabis try to equate the effects to alcohol. I understand that is just ignorance to the facts, but there is not commonality.

  4. Kimberly

    February 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    I am 33, have only been smoking solid for about a year, but now I smoke from wake to sleep for various medical and recreational reasons and drive while smoking and have no issues whatsoever. In fact I find it amusing watching others around me get pulled over for stupid shit while I drive perfectly legal… maybe they should hit some…

  5. Marcus Williams

    February 23, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I smokes like over 10 blunts of loud and about 6 blunts of MIDS everyday. its not really that impact. It made me more focus and more aware of around me. I am deaf so maybe effect on me is different.

  6. bhanda

    February 23, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Marijuwana and driving is relaxing. Best utility in long drive. Keep u alert and sound.

  7. Twilliams

    February 23, 2015 at 1:13 am

    I’d say it doesn’t affect my driving in anyway other then making drive more carefully. Because I’m aware of the fact I’ve used it and become more concerned about my driving.
    At the same time. I really don’t drive after I’ve used it.
    I prefer a bicycle ride to the Dairy Queen.

  8. Yasas

    February 22, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Well I’m a cab driver for 3.5 years and sometimes i do smoke pot and drive, and I don’t have any problems with driving with it its safe truly

  9. stephen

    February 22, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    I do drive while under the influence. And I tell u wat if I didn’t it would be bad for other driver’s. In moderation it calms me down when cracker jack license holders do dumb if not more then questionable things…

  10. adam schenk

    February 22, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Pot absolutely impairs the ability to drive if you are not an everyday or “seasoned” pot smoker. Once a user gets use to the affects of marijuana and gets past that “giggle stage” and can cope with the affects I believe a user could become more aware of his or her surroundings, as they say drunk drivers run stop signs pot smokers wait for them to turn green.

  11. Jeffrey hornfeck

    February 22, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    I drive high eveyday. And i have a no accident record!!!

  12. the homie

    February 22, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    I love gettin high while i drive

  13. anonymous

    February 22, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I do drive and work while high and I’m more focused

  14. Shari

    February 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    The idea of driving whilst high is rather frightening to me so I don’t but I know people who do and I don’t agree with it. The study results don’t surprise me, however. I am a huge proponent for global marijuana legalization.

  15. Zach filhiol

    February 22, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Did the people who conducted the experiment go as far as to determine or try to determine whether the wreck was caused by the testee involved?

  16. Eugene

    February 22, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I am an avid beliver in the medical value of marijuana and believe that it should be legalized. I defend it on a constant basis due to the fact I smoke it as well, but under no circumstance should it be legal to smoke and drive. I don’t care what anyone says. It does alter perception and increases paranoia. This can and has caused unsafe driving situations. There is enough problems with people not giving a crap about others safety on the road but also suprisgingly no consideration for their own safety as well. Please, marijuana is a substance that should like any other substance be handled with responsibility and moderation.

  17. Brandy Dills

    February 22, 2015 at 10:07 am

    I totally agree that drinking while driving is very dangerous. On the other hand smoking while driving cud be dangerous as well if u are immature & don’t know what the crap ur doin. For years alcohol has been legal and cannibas illegal. Let’s try it different & legalize pot, there may be less fatalities when driving.

  18. bree

    February 22, 2015 at 9:10 am

    weather or not someone can drive high all depends on the person and how often they smoke. a cronic stoner is usually always fine to drive high.
    being a stoner i have absolutely no problem driving high but when i was first smoking i could not.

  19. Earl b

    February 22, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Yes I do drive after smoking never been in a wreak high or straight.been smoking for over 30 years every day .alcohol is so much worse than cannabis. I know witch one I’ll go with every time.

  20. suzanne

    February 22, 2015 at 8:26 am

    I learned to Drive stoned. Yes at 16, I had several fender benders on my 67 Buick Lasabre and once hit our insurance guys wife in a parking lot. Boy did we laugh… But that was 40 years ago. As an adult i have had one accident,sober. I’ve driven by myself from Iowa to Oregon and back with a loaded bowl in my lap constantly. Not anything, perfect road trip. I’ve driven from IA to Sacramento and back stoned, the whole way, and countless trips to Oklahoma and back. I like driving stoned, never have gotten pulled over, although i have put the cruise control on in the city to keep my speed level up with traffic. Lol The only draw back for me is maintaining speed. I focus on the road, other drivers and it’s just not an issue for me.

  21. vishnu

    February 22, 2015 at 8:15 am

    I regularly smoke and drive my bike and i would truly say dat it has’nt affected my driving but it is not d case with alcohol coz i have fallen while drving after being drunk. I really support the pot. Dont mind!!

  22. matt

    February 22, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Everything i do, i do high. Cook, clean, and, most certainly, drive. Sometimes my road rage is so explosive that without a buzz, that guy who just cut me off would be in the ditch. Angry people smoking weed saves stupid peoples lives.

  23. robin rusich

    February 22, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Pot makes my reaction time slower and I tend 2 drive slower

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