More than 40% of U.S. drivers who use both alcohol and marijuana admitted they drive under the influence of one or both of the substances, according to a recent study. However, nearly half of those surveyed said they did not get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Still, some cannabis consumers claim that driving while high does not affect their ability to operate an automobile despite warnings from law enforcement that the number of fatal car crashes involving cannabis has more than doubled in the past several years. Although, it apparently makes them better drivers.
According to new driving simulator data published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention, those who use marijuana regularly drive better compared to occasional users.
“Those with a pattern of occasional use were significantly more likely to experience a lane departure during distraction periods after acute cannabis use relative to baseline, while those with daily use did not exhibit a similar increase,” said researchers from the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus and the University of Iowa. “Participants with a pattern of daily use decreased their speed, which may be interpreted as a drug effect or as a compensatory strategy.”
As part of a driving simulated performance test, participants used their own cannabis, which contained between 15 and 30% THC.
Interestingly, the new research only confirmed findings from previous studies that proved that cannabis exposure is associated with either partial or even full tolerance in cognitive and psychomotor performance.
“This may indicate that those who use daily may perceive a potential adverse impact of acute cannabis use on driving performance and may attempt to compensate by slowing down to have more time to react to changes in the roadway,” researchers said, adding that more research on the subject is needed.
Medical Cannabis, Traffic Safety & Lower Insurance Rates
Meanwhile, a team of economists associated with Temple University and the Universities of Arkansas and Eastern Kentucky found that states with legalized medical cannabis enjoyed reduced insurance premiums as well as improved road transport environment.
“We estimate that legalizing medical cannabis reduces annual auto insurance premiums by $22 per household, a reduction of 1.7 percent for the average household,” experts wrote in the study. “Extending our results to other states, we find that medical cannabis legalization has reduced auto insurance premiums by $1.5 billion in all states that have currently legalized, with the potential to reduce premiums by an additional $900 million if the remaining states were to legalize.”