car crash marijuana
Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Feds: Marijuana Use Does Not Make You More Likely To Be In A Car Crash

car crash marijuanaMarijuana opponents like Kevin Sabet have tried very hard to scare Americans into thinking that marijuana reform inevitably will lead to death on our public roads. ‘Just imagine all of the stoned drivers making our roads unsafe for the rest of society’ was something I heard a law enforcement official claim leading up to Oregon’s marijuana legalization victory. Those arguments are going to be much harder to make now that a new federal report shows that marijuana use does not make you more likely to be involved in an automobile crash. Per Think Progress:

A study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concludes that driving after smoking marijuana does not make you more likely to get into a car crash — especially when compared to driving after alcohol consumption.

Researchers studied 9,000 drivers over the past year to examine marijuana’s impact on driving. Although 25 percent of marijuana users were more likely to be involved in a car crash than people who did not use the drug, gender, age, and race/ethnicity of marijuana users were considered, demographic differences actually contributed substantially to crash risk. Younger drivers had a higher crash rate than older ones, and men crashed more than women.

On the other hand, drivers who consumed alcohol were significantly more likely to crash. Those with a 0.08 percent breath alcohol level crashed four times more than sober drivers, and people with a 0.15 percent level were 12 times more likely to crash.

It’s going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for Kevin Sabet to spin this one. Of course, if you are a responsible marijuana consumer then you are not driving after/while consuming marijuana anyways. But even for those that do, they don’t pose a crash risk to other motorists. If marijuana opponents really want to protect roadways, and aren’t simply trying to stick to a debunked political talking point, they will refocus their efforts on alcohol. Or from what it sounds like from the report referenced above, maybe they should try to outlaw younger male drivers?

  • JoeWeed

    I’ve even heard regular consumers have a decrease in driving fatalities. Considering all facts known, I believe that..

    • Doc Deadhead

      That’s because we have a hard time leaving the house, gotta go back in 4 times for stuff we forgot and remember something we have to do first and by the time we are finished it’s too late to go so therefor LESS driving fatalities!

      • moldy

        If you’re over 60 like me you forget shit anyway. Blame it on the weed, the wife, the dog, it’s all good.

    • MrPC

      I do think some drivers are more careful after smoking in moderation, go slower, and are more aware of their environment. But when drivers over-indulge, reflexes fail and confusion takes over. The YouTube of the famous stoned driving test is a perfect example. The hard part is determining when an individual is actually impaired – a simple blood test, like those used for alcohol, is meaningless.

  • Buzzkill

    “Although 25 percent of marijuana users were more likely to be involved in a car crash than people who did not use the drug, gender, age, and race/ethnicity of marijuana users were considered, demographic differences actually contributed substantially to crash risk.”

    This sentence appears to be the key point in this story but try as I might, I can’t make any sense of it. Anyone?

    • Lawrence Goodwin

      Indeed, Buzzkill. Mistakes are made by every writer, and that sentence is no exception. I have no idea what it means, either, though I’m very grateful that people like Johnny Green are on the cannabis beat. “Go, Johnny, go!”

      • Buzzkill

        Agreed. It would be nice if the sentence were corrected though. I really am curious to know the results of the study.

    • MrPC

      Doesn’t it just mean that certain groups are more likely to get into accidents than others (young men for example,) and when these factors are considered, marijuana use does not appear to increase their risk?

      • Buzzkill

        Ah. I think you may be right. Thanks.

      • James DuMouchel

        Here’s how I think the EDITED sentence would read: “Although 25 percent of marijuana users were more likely to be involved in a car crash than people who did not use the drug, AFTER CORRECTING FOR gender, age, and race/ethnicity, IT WAS THE demographic differences WHICH actually contributed substantially to THE crash risk.”

  • Helen

    So, advocates, you take this NHTSA study, combine it with the data from Colorado that Johnny posted last night (Less Than 7% Of DUIIs Issued In Colorado By State Police Were Specifically For Marijuana), and go forth and conquer the prohibitionsits!!!

  • khh

    Here are the state level highway fatality rates for 2013. Looks like states that have medical mj are doing very well, as are the states that have fully legalized. Wash DC, for example, had the lowest rate in the country. BTW, Florida had a higher than average rate.

    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview

  • Cyndysub

    Ok what about the cell phones. I would imagine that people talking on a cell phone puts them at a higher risk than weed.

  • Cyndysub

    This test is weak bullshit. You can bend studies and statistics to whatever you want to convey. Anyone that took a look at the statistical process in collage would be aware of this.

  • Kelly Tracy

    I haven’t smoked pot in years. Just because I got to the point I really didn’t like it anymore. But when I did, when I got behind the wheel, I was extremely careful. Drove the speed limit or a bit slower, was actually more in tune with my surroundings. That is when I did drive which was hardly ever. Most people just want to relax and stay home. If people are so worried about driving impaired, then put your focus on drinking!!! Or Cell phones, Texting, blasting music or whatever takes your mind off the road. No one in their right mind would try to drive and text at the same time after smoking. Well maybe a kid would but they are just terrible drivers anyway! Have an arm put together with metal due to a 16 yr old new driver. Seriously I am more afraid of teenage drivers!

  • Bill Jones

    When I’m stoned I am impaired. But I mean stoned, not kinda high. I avoid heavy machinery. My 2 cents.

  • Interesting article!