03.29.2016
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Science Says: Stoned Driving Unchill; Drunk Driving Worse

It's not a contest. But it would be a good one.

People will never tire of debating the virtues and drawbacks of driving drunk versus piloting an automobile while harboring THC in the consciousness, but it is time to put the argument to rest.

Two Norwegians, senior research fellow, Ole Rogeberg and his chief research officer, Rune Elvik, have exhaustively reviewed more than 20 clinical studies performed from 1982 through 2015 that tracked the impairment of people who strap themselves behind the wheel of a vehicle while baked.

Their paper, published in the journal Addiction with Rogeberg as lead author, is titled “The Effects of Cannabis Intoxication on Motor Vehicle Collision Revisited and Revised.”

The Norwegians defined the aim of their work as: “To determine whether and to what extent acute cannabis intoxication increases motor vehicle crash risk.”

All of us who are capable of taking a big hit of dab, and holding our breaths while reflecting upon blatant realities, can collectively agree that being stoned in the driver’s seat, especially while your vehicle is in motion, increases the risk of your attention being somewhere other than on the road. And, to extend that logic, the more a driver’s attention is somewhere other than on the road, the greater risk of crashing into something you would be better off not hitting.

The question of just how much worse a threat to humanity you are while driving on weed as opposed to driving as your plain old self is something that maybe you shouldn’t trust yourself to answer. 

The tough part of Rogeberg and Elvik’s challenge, where you need to bring in Norwegian professionals, is in determining “to what extent acute cannabis intoxication increases motor vehicle crash risk.”

The question of just how much worse a threat to humanity you are while driving on weed as opposed to driving as your plain old self is something that maybe you shouldn’t trust yourself to answer. You may very well feel and believe, while in the glow of a fresh THC infusion, that, “I am fine. I am cool. I am taking the kids and the dog and driving down to the Crispy Crème.” 

But pause to objectively assess the situation, maybe while trying to find your keys. Consider that the Norwegians are better equipped than you to gauge your relative safety as a car commander.

The Norwegians, admittedly, haven’t done any actual new studies. They have sifted through study results from at least 13 countries with a combined total of 239,739 participants in the sample count. Numbers that big don’t easily lie.

The basic math of the Norwegians’ overall conclusion adds up to: “Acute cannabis intoxication is associated with a statistically significant increase in motor vehicle crash risk. The increase is of low to medium magnitude.”

According to Rogeberg and Elvik’s advanced calculations, the odds are between 1.2 and 1.4 times higher to have a collision while lit than while simply tooling around minding your own business on the natural.

All of us who are capable of reflecting upon blatant realities can collectively agree: That ratio seems about correct. Who’s the truculent fool who would be obtuse and bellicose enough argue with those factors?

A drunk person, that’s who.

For proof, be presumptive and apply alcohol-based collision-risk factors to alcohol-based propensity to engage in pointless and pugnacious argument.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving after imbibing alcohol, even imbibing within the legal limit, raises the risk of crashing a deadly vehicle into something, or someone, by practically 400 percent.

By extension, drunks are four times more likely than stoners to keep alive the argument over what’s worse, stoned driving or drunk driving.

The best advice in this situation: Light up and let your crapulous combatant friends fight it out on their own.

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