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Driving while high: What's the real risk?

As the use of marijuana gains greater acceptance across America, serious questions need to be asked, such as, "How dangerous is it to drive while high on marijuana?" Unfortunately, at this point, the research on how much marijuana use impairs one's ability to drive is limited. But, one thing is clear: Using marijuana before you get behind the wheel does impair your ability to drive.

How does marijuana affect driving?

Specifically, marijuana use impairs several key abilities required for safe vehicle operation:

  • Tracking
  • Motor coordination
  • Visual function
  • The ability to effectively divide your attention

These diminished abilities can cause a driver who is high on marijuana to weave within his or her lane or make other mistakes.

Does marijuana cause more accidents?

There is currently no evidence that driving while high on marijuana causes more accidents. This may be due to the lack of research on the subject. Some studies show that it is due to a tendency that high drivers will be more cautious, drive at slower speeds and allow a greater distance between themselves and other vehicles among other behaviors. This is in stark contrast with drunk drivers who tend to make much more risky decisions when driving such as speeding, following too closely and failing to react quickly enough.

The reality is that while driving while stoned may be safer that driving drunk, it is never safer than driving sober. You owe it to yourself and everyone else on the road to be the safest driver you can be.

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