A study in the British Medical Journal has found stoned drivers are twice as likely to be in a car crash. However, drivers affected by cannabis are still less dangerous than drunk drivers.
Marijuana use linked to accidents
Consensus has been for many years that it is better to not ingest anything that can affect reaction times or one’s state of mind before getting behind the wheel of a car. That includes marijuana, and a growing body of literature suggests ingesting marijuana in any form before driving is not safe.
A literature review of available studies, according to CBS, was conducted by researchers from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia concerning car accidents and car accident fatalities, which has been published in the British Medical Journal. The study found that the likelihood of being involved in a serious crash increased 1.75 times for people who had smoked marijuana within three hours of driving, relative to the risk posed to people who drive sober.
The review used data from nine different studies involving 50,000 motor vehicle crashes, including blood toxicology reports and people who admitted to using marijuana.
Risk for minor crashes stays same
According to Time magazine, the risk of having a fender-bender, though, was not raised significantly. However, according to CNN, the risk of a significant crash increased as drivers who were intoxicated from marijuana use were more likely to swerve in and out of their lanes and follow to closely.
The study also found that the risk is also partially tied to the age of the person in question. Those over the age of 35 were more likely to be involved in a crash after ingesting marijuana.
Still not as bad as alcohol
Drugged driving leads to fatalities. Data collected by the office of “drug czar” Gil Kerlikowske, National Drug Control Policy Director, found that 3,952 people who were killed in car accidents tested positive for drugs or alcohol in 2009, according to CBS.
However, 48 percent of all drivers fatally injured in that report tested positive for alcohol. Alcohol, according to Time magazine, is involved in nearly one-third of all fatalities in traffic accidents or about 11,000 people per year. According to the Centers for Disease control, drugged driving, which involves use of a drug other than alcohol, accounts for 18 percent of traffic fatalities.