Reasons Why Marijuana Users Are Safe Drivers

Driving while intoxicated is a well known way to cause an accident on the road. Although not as common, you can be charged with that offense for more than just drinking alcohol. It also includes anything else that causes impairment, such as drugs (whether they are legal ones or not), including marijuana.marijuana and driving

However, 20 years of study has concluded that marijuana smokers may actually be getting a bad rap and that they may actually have fewer accidents than other drivers. There have been several studies done over the past 20 years and every one of them has revealed that using marijuana actually has a very minor, if any, effect on the ability of a person to drive a car or other vehicle.

Marijuana, Alcohol users Use Products Differently

Research studies showed that if a comparison was done between how drivers who had been drinking alcohol and those who had been using marijuana, it showed that the pot users were in fewer crashes.

Why is this so?

Researchers believe it is because of the way people consume the two products, as alcohol drinkers usually do their drinking out in public and then try to drive home, while pot smokers usually smoke at home and don’t try to drive, meaning fewer are involved in driving accidents in the first place.

Research also shows that while drunk drivers usually drive faster and don’t understand that their driving skills are messed up, the drivers that have been smoking marijuana actually tend to drive slower and stay away from risky behavior.

These and other tests on marijuana smoking and driving were done in different places all over the world, including Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, the United States, and the UK with the following results:

Results of Major Studies on Marijuana and Driving

The research that has been done on this phenomenon of marijuana smoking and driving has shown some interesting results:

Research studies in the Netherlands at the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research that drivers with blood alcohol rates of .5 percent up to .8 percent had accidents five times more than other drivers, and if it was higher amounts of alcohol, the results were accidents happening up to 15 times more often. But, the marijuana smokers actually showed these drivers posed NO risk at all!

Top 10 Reasons Marijuana Users Are Safer Drivers

When you combine all of the main results of these two decades worth of scientific research studies, the following 10 reasons marijuana drivers are safer than drunk drivers comes out like this:

1. Drivers who had been using marijuana were found to drive slower, according to a 1983 study done by U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). This was seen as a factor in their favor, since drivers who drank alcohol usually drove faster and that is part of the reason they had accidents.

2. Marijuana users were able to drive straight and not have any trouble staying in their own lanes when driving on the highway, according to a NHTSA done in 1993 in the Netherlands. The study determined also that the use of marijuana had very little affect on the person’s overall driving ability.

3. Drivers who had smoked marijuana were shown to be less likely to try to pass other cars and to drive at a consistent speed, according to a University of Adelaide study done in Australia. The study showed no danger unless the drivers had also been drinking alcohol.

4. Drivers high on marijuana were also shown to be less likely to drive in a reckless fashion, according to a study done in 2000 in the UK by the UK Transport Research Lab. The study was done using driver on driving simulators over a period of a month and was actually undertaken to show that pot was a cause for impairment, but instead it showed the opposite and confirmed that these drivers were actually much safer than some of the other drivers on the road.

5. States that allow the legal use of marijuana for medical reasons are noticing less traffic fatalities; for instance, in Colorado and Montana there has been a nine percent drop in traffic fatalities and a five percent drop in beer sales.

The conclusion was that using marijuana actually has helped save lives! Medical marijuana is allowed in 16 states in the U.S.

6. Low doses of marijuana in a person’s system was found by tests in Canada in 2002 to have little effect on a person’s ability to drive a car, and that these drivers were in much fewer car crashes than alcohol drinkers.

driving stoned

7. Most marijuana smokers have fewer crashes because they don’t even drive in the first place and just stay home thus concluded more than one of these tests on pot smoking and driving.

8. Marijuana smokers are thought to be more sober drivers. Traffic information from 13 states where medical marijuana is legal showed that these drivers were actually safer and more careful than many other drivers on the road.

These studies were confirmed by the University of Colorado and the Montana State University when they compared a relationship between legal marijuana use and deaths in traffic accidents in those states. The studies done by a group called the Truth About Cars showed that traffic deaths fell nine percent in states with legal use of medical marijuana.

(To view our study on Drunk Driving vs. Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths, click here.)

9. Multiple studies showed that marijuana smokers were less likely to be risk takers than those that use alcohol. The studies showed that the marijuana calmed them down and made them actually pay more attention to their abilities.All of these tests and research studies showed that while some people think that marijuana is a major cause of traffic problems, in reality it may make the users even safer when they get behind the wheel!

10. Marijuana smoking drivers were shown to drive at prescribed following distances, which made them less likely to cause or have crashes.

Every test seemed to come up with these same results in all of the countries they were done in. Even so, insurance companies will still penalize any driver in an accident that has been shown to have been smoking pot, so this doesn’t give drivers free reign to smoke pot and drive.

So, the bottom line is that while alcohol has been shown in every single incident to have major problems and to have caused countless traffic crashes and fatalities, pot smoking overall has had none of these issues and in fact may make drivers pay more attention, drive slower and straighter and perhaps even stay home so they can’t be in an accident at all!


  Comments: 21

  1. Love the potleaf on the green traffic light!

  2. If government says something is good then stay away from it. If government says something is bad then stock up on it.

  3. I have to say, some of these points are pretty redundant.

    As a pot smoker myself, I fail to see how not driving high equates to driving better while high (point 7).

    I could draw a parallel that holds just as much weight if I were to say babies make better drivers than adults, because babies are involved in fewer accidents.

    • Jose,
      Your last argument refuting an obvious correlation/causation on this subject falls on deaf ears when your replacement logic example (babies) are categorically exempt from driving.

      You may as well have argued that elephants equally cause less traffic accidents than alcohol users. Your point is moot, the article refers to two population segments that are equall,y legally able to perform said task, to drive in a non-intoxicated state.

      The argument should be made, correctly I might add, that pot smokers are statistically speaking able to distinguish the immediate hazards of driving under the influence and refrain for the act. The statistics appear to show that alcohol users lose more of their critical judgement under consumption and with this lack of restraint, they choose more frequently to roll the dice and risk endangering others behind the wheel.

      Respectfully submitted,
      Phillip Viars

      • You’reAboutToGetServed

        Phillip, you did not make a single point in your argument. You used a bunch of fancy words to sound smart and didn’t make any justification. I smoke weed, and I fucking love it, but this article is complete utter bullshit. I do believe it is true that marijuana users are safer than alcohol users, but that isn’t a good argument at all. Smoking and driving still changes how you’re actions, such as “Impaired memory for recent events, difficulty concentrating, dreamlike states, impaired motor coordination, impaired driving and other psychomotor skills, slowed reaction time, impaired goal-directed mental activity, and altered peripheral vision”. This is a summary of many studies conducted (Adams and Martin 1996; Fehr and Kalant 1983; Hollister 1988a; Institute of Medicine 1982; Tart 1971). Driving sober is clearly the best way to drive.

        • Phillip made perfect sense. Just because you’re not educated enough to understand proper grammar and construct a sentence doesn’t mean he was wrong. I’ll try to translate for you:

          The last thing you said about babies is wrong because babies and drugs are two different things.

          You may as well have said that elephants also cause less traffic accidents. The article is talking about two groups of people who are both able to drive in the same and legal manner.

          The argument you said should be this, that pot smokers are shown to be able to know the dangers of driving while under the influence and not do so. So that statistics show that alcohol users lose more of their ability to make judgments and not give a shit and still drive, meaning they choose to drive intoxicated and do more stupid things like speeding while driving,

    • I would agree that the way that the article states the “not driving” is redundant.

      However, when i was a pot smoker, I often would either choose not to drive, let someone else drive, or pull over and not drive if I felt I was too stoned. This is something a drunk person fails to do, ie have a reasonable assessment of their abilities.

      Great article though. Its funny how the government are afraid to support the science, when the outcome is not what they want to hear.

    • What about the people who drink at home? Are they just as likely not drive anywhere because they’re already home? That arguement as it stands, has no relevance.

  4. So how about insurance discount for pot smokers!

  5. Drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to UNDERestimate their impairment, and FAIL to compensate for it, leading to MORE accidents, while drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to OVERestimate their impairment, and compensate for it effectively, leading to FEWER accidents.

    Alcohol INCREASES AGGRESSION, while REDUCING INHIBITION, leading to MORE accidents, while marijuana REDUCES AGGRESSION, while INCREASING INHIBITION, leading to FEWER accidents.

    It is even believed by some (e.g. the authors of several valid scientific studies addressing this question) that drivers under the influence of marijuana frequently OVERCOMPENSATE for their perceived impairment, causing them to drive more safely even than drivers NOT under the influence of ANY drug.

    There are NO GOOD REASONS to pursue the prohibition of marijuana, and MANY good reasons to SUSPEND IT.

  6. Green Thumbcat

    Although I agree with the premise and conclusions of the article, whomever actually regurgitated the information gleaned from other studies was apparently unable to put it into correct English. There are GLARING elementary-school level grammar or wrong-word errors in almost every numbered reason above. The writer used “affect” and “effect” interchangeably; it’s like they were writing for Craigslist.

    Therefore, the article loses any credibility it deserves. If the writer can’t even put a short article like this together in correct English, it’s almost a given that the facts were not checked either.

    Sorry. STAY IN SCHOOL!!!

    • not to mention the fact that they accidentally transcribed 0.05% and 0.08% as 0.5% and 0.8% respectively. That range is quite often fatal!

    • Technically, it’s not “whomever”. That would be used if the person in question were the object of the sentence and not the subject. Correct would be to say “whoever actually regurgitated the info…etc…”.

      So, while I agree with the premise and conclusion of your post….:)

      blah, blah, blah. I suppose if someone finds a mistake somewhere in my post and is willing to make note of it, then a mistake is found in that person’s post… we could theoretically create the infinite grammar nazi reply thread. I look forward to seeing it someday

      In all serious though, I agree with Green Thumbcat; this was not elegantly written, but nevertheless interesting and informative.

    • Perfect grammar and spelling is NOT ESSENTIAL, especially relative to almost any topic under discussion. I would be surprised if HALF of all writers, including many with advanced educations, know the difference between the words affect and effect.

      Which does NOT negate the credibility of their THOUGHTS. In fact, their IDEAS, if they are sound, will stand on their own. I would MUCH rather hear an intelligent statement, full of incidental errors, that a grammatically perfect heap of crap.

      This is not a competition for the best English paper. This is discussion of some of Society’s most serious issues, which must take precedence over spelling and grammar.

      Normally, such errors, especially in this context, are ignored.

      One does NOT, in a Democracy, need to be an expert (on anything), to take part in the discussion. For all its slight errors in grammar, I think this article is VERY successful.

  7. Stephen Jacob

    If I can get stoned out of my head and drive and ride 75 kilometres everyday in a typical overpopulated Indian city’s traffic without causing a single accident till date, anyone who says driving under its influence is a threat of any sort needs a kick to the jaw.

  8. The Uk test did not give cannabis a clean bill of health, they identified quite clearly that cannabis affects driving control adversely.

    You are entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts.

  9. How about the people who don’t drive under the influence of anything at all? If you don’t smoke, drink, text/eat/do makeup, while driving then we’d all be safe so…yeah, don’t do anything and there won’t be cause for an arguement, also less death.

    • It’s naive to just say “everyone be personally responsible, ok?”

      People are going to drive drunk, high, and distracted. Driving high has been consistently demonstrated to be safer than driving drunk. If we didn’t crack down on people for marijuana we would have less alcohol use and therefore fewer traffic fatalities from drunk drivers. Rather than trying for an idealistic “no one be stupid ever so we can get 0 deaths”, I prefer the pragmatic approach of “allowing pot will reduce deaths.”

  10. A lot of that more cautious driving can be explained by marijuana being illegal. People avoid being pulled over for any small infraction. if they are in possession pot, it changes the charge from a small traffic charge, to a GREAT BIG problem.

    Legalizing it would probably take away incentive to drive safely.

    • what is the incentive to drive recklessly? A suicidal tendency or pure ignorance. People smoke pot for many reasons. Prescribed use is an attempt to cope with medical nstressors. These people are practicing self-improvement and are not interested in throwing away their progress by endangering themselves or others. They generally have a higher appreciation for life. They are safer drivers or drive less because they understand the risks involved in being in a motor vehicle. They may drive less simply because they do not want a drunk driver to crash into them. This is the benefit of paranoia. If there isn’t any threat then there is no basis for fear. I believe marijuana should be legal by prescription and all patients should submit to regular research to determine more facts. This would seperate the correlational factors such as alcohol use that is often the cause of bad marijuana reputation. A supply that is regulated by a liscenced facility will also be safe from black market adulteration such as formaldahyde, pcp, mold, etc.

  11. Sorry, I had a longer comment written out but the power went out…

    How misleading can this article get?

    First off, the title is “Reasons Why Marijuana Users Are Safe Drivers”, but then it goes on to say “… the following 10 reasons marijuana drivers are ***safer than drunk drivers*** comes out like this:” This study doesn’t prove that sober drivers are worse, but the title leads people to think so.

    “Dutch Institute for Road Safety research that drivers with blood alcohol rates of .5 percent up to .8 percent had accidents five times more than other drivers […] But, the marijuana smokers actually showed these drivers posed NO risk at all!”

    Actually, maybe you should read the study more closely, OP.

    Page 5: “For cannabis a slight increase in risk was found which is comparable to a BAC of 0.1-0.5% alcohol (1 to 3 times higher risk).”

    I haven’t looked at the other studies you’ve “summed up” for us, but based on those two things alone, I’m not willing to waste any more time.

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