Like alcohol, marijuana also impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction times, and yet, many people have a very different attitude toward stoned driving than they do toward drunk driving. As marijuana becomes legalized in more states, public awareness campaigns, educational programs, and improved technology can help more people understand the risks of driving while stoned.
According to one federal study, there was a 48 percent increase in the number of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Colorado after marijuana became legalized in 2014. Critics of the study said that the information was misleading and that they were using inflated numbers to scare people.
Some responded by saying that marijuana does not cause much of an impairment and that the effects fade after an hour of driving. Others claim that marijuana can help them be more focused and less distracted while driving. Unfortunately, these attitudes can be dangerous.
While it is more difficult to pinpoint the exact amount of THC—the active compound in marijuana—that must be present in the body for a driver to be considered impaired, the best thing to do is to avoid driving at all if you have any marijuana in your system.
According to Fran Lanzer, Executive Director of the Colorado Chapter of MADD, there needs to be a change the perception of marijuana in the same way that there was for alcohol. In addition, police officers should be trained on how to detect when a driver is high, since there is currently no test for marijuana comparable to the breathalyzer for alcohol.
Facts About Driving While Stoned
Drivers who are high use more energy to perform simple tasks. This means reaction times are slower, they are less able to multitask, and their peripheral vision is decreased.
It is unclear how much marijuana use impacts crash risk. Some studies show that marijuana can increase crash risks by 50 percent, while others show little to no increase.
It is difficult to detect levels of impairment. There is no roadside test for marijuana and most states have not settled on a THC threshold for impairment. Some states are looking at saliva tests as an option for roadside testing.
Studies on marijuana-related impaired driving are inconsistent. Because the legalization of marijuana is so new, the research on the effects of marijuana on driving is limited and inconsistent.
More research is necessary. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be conducting new research on how marijuana affects people’s ability to drive safely.
Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims Injured by Impaired Drivers
If you have been injured in a car accident involving another driver who was under the influence of marijuana, you are urged to contact a Baltimore car accident lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.