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  1. jon-q
    New data reveals that many drivers get behind the wheel after smoking pot, spurring calls for the cannabis-equivalent of a blood-alcohol test

    Drunk driving is still a major problem — alcohol was a factor in 32 percent of U.S. traffic-related deaths in 2009 — but drugged driving is on the rise, too. New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says many drivers are impaired by legal and illegal drugs, and marijuana is especially prevalent.

    From 1999 to 2009, the number of car crash fatalities where drugs were the primary cause, and no booze was involved, jumped by 55 percent. Here, a brief guide:

    What have studies found about drugged drivers?

    Sixteen percent of drivers stopped randomly in nighttime checks nationwide were impaired by legal or illegal drugs, according to a government tally. Roughly half of those impaired were under the influence of marijuana. And 33 percent of drivers in fatal crashes were under the influence of drugs.

    In California, some 1,000 car accidents and fatalities are blamed on drugged drivers each year. Law enforcement officials blame the rise of medicinal marijuana, which is legal in the state. "Marijuana is a significant and important contributing factor in a growing number of fatal accidents," says Gil Kerlikowske, the director of National Drug Control Policy.

    What are police doing about this?

    While medicinal marijuana is legal, to some degree, in 16 states, most don't have a strict standard for the level of pot allowed in a driver's system. "We are not nearly to the point where we are with alcohol," says Jeffrey P. Michael with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "We don't know what level of marijuana impairs a driver." Officers typically administer a 12-part exam to determine a driver's level of intoxication, based on their blood pressure, pulse, pupil dilation, and coordination. But there's no clear line, as there is with drinking and blood-alcohol levels.

    How about a zero tolerance policy for driving drugged?

    Thirteen states do have zero-tolerance laws. But most, including California, simply rely on police officers to determine a driver's level of impairment. Zero tolerance is also somewhat complicated, as marijuana remains in the system for days and weeks. It's unclear how low levels of residual pot might impair a driver, if at all. Marijuana advocates worry that police might drivers days or weeks after they last used marijuana. "Marijuana is not nearly as well understood as alcohol, which has been the subject of statistical and medical research for decades," says Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times.

    So, what now?

    There are plenty of ongoing studies on the effects of marijuana on drivers. In Virginia Beach, Va., $6 million is being spent to prove that drivers with drugs in their systems are more likely to crash. The Office of National Drug Control Policy, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are working together on a nationwide campaign to address the issue. Someday, scientists hope to be able to determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana with a simple saliva swab test, but that will take years of research. Until then, police officers will have to rely on their judgement... as they did with alcohol decades ago.

    Yahoo News 6th July 2011


  1. beentheredonethatagain
    i have done both drive while drunk , and drive while stoned, the alcohol impearment is much more dangerous, the stoned driving is more like being dumb driving, not sure where to turn, or cant remember how to get someplace, but accidents are still a possibilty do to indecions and last minute turns.
  2. jon-q
    Mmm, like the indecision to pump the brakes when a kid runs out in front of your car.

    I’m sure plenty of people will argue that driving whilst stoned is safer than driving when pissed, and i agree with that statement, however, this doesn’t mean that driving whilst “Stoned” is safe by any means.

    Driving with small amounts of residual substances in your system is of course another story.

    Have i driven whilst under the influence, yes, I’m ashamed to say i have, thankfully i have a little more sense now, and wouldn’t dream of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle when under the influence.

  3. C.D.rose
    Uhhh, what? These types of tests are already available today in some countries around here (Drugswipe®). These tests are rather imprecise and so on, but it's not like they are some invention to be made in 50 years.
  4. g666d
    What about regular smokers who's normal state of mind is, stoned...?
    Not going to argue with anyone here but personal experience shows me some individuals are capable of incredibly safe and diligent driving practice, while under the influence of THC. The most dangerous driving I have seen (apart from drink-driving) has been with over excited straight individuals, distracted or angry or really interested in what they are talking/thinking about and not focused on task at hand...

    Over dangers I would rate riskier than being stoned:
    using cellphone, esp texting while driving,
    dealing with noisy children while driving,
    and over-confidence/inexperience.

    [edit] and emotional individuals.

    And yes, I believe that for some people being stoned puts them in a safer frame of mind (for instance, for some, a more cautious state) than being straight.
  5. alienesseINspace
    When I used to partake in smoking weed, I would find my driving to be much much improved than when I am sober. When I was stoned, I was patient, observant, and didn't multitask. I smoked it for 10 years chronically.... and did a lot of driving. I did not get into any car accidents until about 2 years ago and that was when I had just started taking anti-depressants. But yeah, pot had no ill affects on my driving.

    I know what it's like to drive after a drink or two... I HATE it! I won't do it. It is uncomfortable and dangerous.
  6. EscapeDummy
    I would say marijuana has a net negative impact on driving, but its far more complex than 'weed makes me drive better/worse'. I've witnessed some individuals drive better, some worse, and others no discernible difference.

    That is, it offers some positive benefits - more cautious driving, mild paranoia can lead to increased awareness of surroundings (cops), I've found I keep a greater bumper distance between me and the next car, more gentle acceleration/braking, and generally stick to the speed limit while high.

    It also has some negative impacts - loss of short term memory, personally a slight impairment on directional ability (how do I get there? is this the right street? no, dammit, its not. oh, wait, it is...), reduced reaction time, etc.

    So it has a mixed effect on driving, which I would attempt to say is overall somewhat negative, but not nearly as bad as alcohol (even just a few drinks) or being tired/sleep deprived. I would venture to state that driving while stoned is not dangerous in a statistically significant sense; that is the variation of an individuals driving is greater than the net effect of marijuana. That's my take on it.
  7. asc987
    I agree completely with escape, ive experienced everything he talked about whilst driving stoned and have seen it in others. well put man
  8. C.D.rose
    Hmm, I would probably side with EscapeDummy here. With the only exception that I have experienced the cop paranoia as actually impairing my driving skills, because I was always jittery and hoping no cops came around.

    Personally, I don't give too much credibility to those studies that say that pot smoking improves driving skills. The conditions under which these studies are made are so different from real-life situation, i.e., you know, dudes chilling around after two or three bongs and deciding they wanna go to BurgerKing or something to enjoy a nice little (or not so little) snack.

    Personally, my driving skills were definitely impaired even after low doses of marijuana consumption, which is why I stopped driving high a long, long time ago. (And I still shudder when I think back at the occasions where I did it.) Impairment was far greater than when I was on 300mg/d of amitriptyline (a tricyclic antidepressant, and for those not familiar, 300mg is a crazy-ass dose).

    I have thought about all this a lot, and my opinion is that driving sober is the only good way to drive. One could make the point about mild stimulants that could theoretically increase focus and attention (see modafinil used as "go pills" in the US Air Force), but even there I believe that the potential for side-effects, which is always present, is greater than the potential for improved driving skills. If people are too tired so that they would actually need a stimulant to be fully awake, they shouldn't be driving at all. Really, I see people driving in all kinds of states, not just drug-induced - for example, when suffering from a terrible flu - and I can just shake my head at how egoistic people are. Doing that puts yourself and others at risk!

    One final reason for which I decided to only drive fully sober was that, if I caused an accident while being high where someone else was hurt, or possibly even killed, I would never get over that. Even if it was determined that it was 0% my fault and that I could have done nothing to prevent it, I would always think "what would be if I had not been high?" That was a quite strong factor in me deciding to not drive while high any longer.
  9. Tillianne
    I think it depends on how much cannabis is consumed. I know someone who can consume small amounts, like maybe a couple hits, and it has no impact on their driving at all. On the other hand, I know someone else that gets so stoned I would never want them behind the wheel like that.
  10. beentheredonethatagain
    that was not what I had in mind.. u must be surely jesting.. ha i get it
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