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. DUI/DWI violations can be for anything else that causes impairment, such as drugs (whether they are legal or not), including marijuana.

However, over twenty years of studies have shown that marijuana smokers may actually be getting a bad rap. Research suggests that cannabis users may actually have fewer accidents than other drivers. There have been several studies conducted over the past twenty years and each one of them has revealed that using marijuana actually has a very minor, if any, effect on the ability of a person to operate a moving vehicle.

Marijuana And Alcohol Users Use Products Differently

A study was done comparing drivers who had been drinking alcohol and those who had been using marijuana. It reached the conclusion that marijuana users were in fewer auto accidents.marijuana and driving

Why is this so?

Researchers believe it is because of the way people consume the two products. Alcohol drinkers oftentimes do their drinking out in public and then try to drive home. Cannabis smokers usually smoke at home and do not attempt try to drive, which means they don’t even have the chance to be involved in a car accident.

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

Studies like this one, which look at the impact marijuana use has on driving, have been done all over the world – from Canada to Australia to Europe to the US. Funnily enough, they all seem to reach the same conclusion: marijuana users are safer drivers. Continue reading below to hear more about these studies.

Results Of Major Studies On Marijuana Use And Driving

Research from the Netherlands conducted at the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research showed that drivers with blood alcohol content’s (BAC) of 0.05% to 0.08% had accident rates 5X higher than that of non-impaired drivers. If the BAC was higher than that, the results showed that accidents were up to 15X more likely to occur. When testing drivers who consumed marijuana, however, the data actually showed these drivers posed no accident risk at all!

Studies from around the world show similar results. Using these findings, we have developed a list of reasons why marijuana users are actually safe drivers:

Top 10 Reasons Marijuana Users Are Safer Drivers

  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). At the time, this was seen as a factor in the favor of marijuana advocacy groups, since drivers who drank alcohol usually drove faster and more aggressively, leading to more 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 study 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 and pass other cars on the road. They were also more likely to drive at a consistent speed, according to a University of Adelaide study done in Australia. The study showed that marijuana posed no danger (unless the drivers had also been drinking alcohol).driving stoned
  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 driving simulators and actually was originally hoping to show the dangers of marijuana, but instead it showed the exact opposite and confirmed that these drivers were actually 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 example, in Colorado and Montana there has been a 9% drop in traffic fatalities and a 5% drop in beer sales. The conclusion was that marijuana use actually has helped save lives. Medical marijuana is allowed in 30 states in the U.S. as of 2018.
  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.
  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 Montana State University when they compared the relationship between legal marijuana use and deaths in traffic accidents in those states. Daniel Rees, a researcher involved in that study, said, “drunk drivers take more risk, they tend to go faster. They don’t realize how impaired they are. People who are under the influence of marijuana drive slower, they don’t take as many risks.”
    Another study done by 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 show that marijuana smokers are less likely to be risk takers than those that use alcohol. The studies concluded that marijuana calmed people down and made them actually pay more attention to their abilities. These tests and research studies showed that while some people think marijuana is a major cause of traffic problems, in reality it may make marijuana users even safer when they get behind the wheel.
  10. Drivers who smoke marijuana were shown to drive at the speed limit (over long distances), which made them less likely to cause or have crashes.

No matter what country these studies were conducted in, they all seemed to reach the same conclusion – driving after smoking marijuana is not that dangerous. Even so, insurance companies in the United States will penalize drivers with higher premiums if they have been convicted of driving with marijuana in their system. The law can also be very harsh on “marijuana DUI” convictions as well.

The bottom line remains that while driving under the influence of alcohol has been shown to cause countless problems, accidents, injuries, and fatalities, marijuana use has not. In fact, it makes drivers pay more attention, drive slower, and perhaps even keeps them glued-to-the couch instead of out on the road!

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: 22

  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.

    • LOL Anytime someone starts a remark with “Actually, maybe you should read the study more closely,…” you know something really stupid is coming. Sure enough:

      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).” Read more closely, indeed.

      There’s no such thing as smoking enough cannabis to be impaired on the order of 0.5% BAC. Most drinkers who achieve that level of BAC (or even .3%) experience death as a side effect. Conversely, cannabis has no lethal dose; it’s stubbornly non-toxic.

      Decimals matter in enlightened conversation…especially when taking the risky step of correcting others. The comment was ten times as stupid as it needed to be.

Your feedback