Stoned Drivers: Higher Risk Of Car Accident Involvement

On behalf of Pat Crispi at Keogh Crispi PC

Many marijuana advocates like to claim that using marijuana is safer than drinking alcohol, especially when driving safety is being compared. While this claim may have a kernel of truth to it, the reality is that drivers who get behind the wheel after smoking marijuana are nearly twice as likely to be involved in car accidents as drivers who are completely sober.

According to a recently published study, "cannabis [marijuana] impairs performance of the cognitive and motor tasks necessary for safe driving, increasing the risk of collision." Importantly, the study found that it is not just drivers who choose to smoke marijuana while driving who are dangers to others; drivers who have smoked marijuana within three hours of driving have an elevated risk of being involved in an accident.

The study did not determine what level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, makes it dangerous for users to drive, but CBS News reports that drivers who have high levels THC in their bodies are more likely to be involved in fatal accidents.

The study conducted by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and published in the British Medical Journal examined nine studies encompassing more than 49,000 people involved in all types of motor vehicle accidents involving one or more vehicles. The researchers determined the accident risk of driving high through the results of blood tests and self-reported use in the previous studies.

Accidents Involving High Drivers

In 2011, NORML - the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws - released its own study on the effects of driving while under the influence of drugs, according to CBS News. The study by NORML found that it may be riskier to drive stoned than sober, but did state driving high was safer than driving drunk. The relativism in NORML's findings may not bring comfort to the families that have lost loved ones in accidents with high drivers.

When people are injured by the drivers who have recently smoked marijuana, those high drivers can be held responsible for their negligent actions. Through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, an experienced attorney can help you secure compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and funeral costs.

Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to learn of your legal options if you've been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a stoned driver.