Is It More Dangerous To Drive Drunk Or Stoned?

Marijuana jointBrian Palmer discovers that it’s an open and shut case, for Slate:

A new study suggests that legalizing medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities. The authors noted that legalizing marijuana reduces alcohol consumption, and people are more wary of driving high than drunk. Which drug is actually more dangerous on the road?

Alcohol, and it’s not even close. It’s hard to directly compare alcohol and marijuana, because driving impairment depends on dosage and the two drugs tend to affect different skills. (Pot makes drivers worse at mindless tasks like staying in a lane, while alcohol undermines behaviors that require more attention like yielding to pedestrians or taking note of stop signs.) Nevertheless, Yale psychiatrist Richard Sewell reviewed the academic literature on driving while intoxicated in a 2009 article, and found that alcohol is significantly more dangerous. Real-world data from auto accidents indicate that a drunk driver is approximately 10 times more likely to cause a fatal accident than a stoned driver. In most studies, smoking one-third of a joint or less has virtually no impact on a driver’s performance. A couple of studies even suggest that pot smokers are less likely to cause an accident than sober drivers.

It’s a little surprising that THC has such a small effect on driving. In experiments testing the skills required for driving—coordination, visual tracking, and reaction time—rather than driving itself, subjects under the influence of pot fare significantly worse than sober people. But when you put them behind the wheel of a driving simulator, tokers perform okay. Those who have taken in a moderate dose of the drug show minimal impairment, and very experienced smokers show almost no deficit at all. (Interestingly, habitual stoners are also better at driving drunk than ordinary people.)…

[continues at Slate]

majestic

Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

54 Comments on "Is It More Dangerous To Drive Drunk Or Stoned?"

  1. Mysophobe | Dec 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm |

    Not buying it. That dude in Reefer Madness was stoned to the gills, driving erratically and killed a pedestrian. Case closed.

  2. Mysophobe | Dec 1, 2011 at 11:00 am |

    Not buying it. That dude in Reefer Madness was stoned to the gills, driving erratically and killed a pedestrian. Case closed.

  3. Rex Vestri | Dec 1, 2011 at 11:05 am |

    Bill Hicks – Beer vs Pot
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1HtfQZXl6U

  4. Expert Stoner | Dec 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    I drive stoned, every single day, and I smoke the medical grade shit. It does not effect your driving in any negative way. Actually, it makes you MORE observant and cautious. If you suck at driving before you smoke, you will still suck after. Everyone’s driving ability’s are different. 

    One of my friends is a terrible driver. If he smokes, he wont drive for the entire day. He will also argue that the marijuana’s effect on his driving ability is not the reason he wont drive. It’s because the marijuana makes him so paranoid he has to drive in fear the whole time. He is normally a paranoid person to begin with though. Alcohol on the other hand, way way way more dangerous to drive on. Drink to much and you can’t walk, never mind drive! Smoke too much marijuana and you end up making an unexpected stop for munchies. :)I can’t even believe this is being debated. 

    Marijuana needs to be legalized so majority of people can realize the stupid stereotypes that go around are complete nonsense. Besides the munchies one, that really happens. 

  5. Expert Stoner | Dec 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm |

    I drive stoned, every single day, and I smoke the medical grade shit. It does not effect your driving in any negative way. Actually, it makes you MORE observant and cautious. If you suck at driving before you smoke, you will still suck after. Everyone’s driving ability’s are different. 

    One of my friends is a terrible driver. If he smokes, he wont drive for the entire day. He will also argue that the marijuana’s effect on his driving ability is not the reason he wont drive. It’s because the marijuana makes him so paranoid he has to drive in fear the whole time. He is normally a paranoid person to begin with though. Alcohol on the other hand, way way way more dangerous to drive on. Drink to much and you can’t walk, never mind drive! Smoke too much marijuana and you end up making an unexpected stop for munchies. :)I can’t even believe this is being debated. 

    Marijuana needs to be legalized so majority of people can realize the stupid stereotypes that go around are complete nonsense. Besides the munchies one, that really happens. 

  6. DeepCough | Dec 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm |

    It’s true: driving stoned DOES NOT increase your chances of getting in an accident, because, when one gets stoned in the act of driving, one gets freaked out by the speed at which your metal carriage is going, so you naturally slow down. I myself have driven stoned out of mind, and managed to get from point A to point B–while driving a stickshift!–without hurting anyone or anything, not even myself. If you can do that, no matter what substance you’re on, I say, “no harm, no foul.”

  7. DeepCough | Dec 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm |

    It’s true: driving stoned DOES NOT increase your chances of getting in an accident, because, when one gets stoned in the act of driving, one gets freaked out by the speed at which your metal carriage is going, so you naturally slow down. I myself have driven stoned out of mind, and managed to get from point A to point B–while driving a stickshift!–without hurting anyone or anything, not even myself. If you can do that, no matter what substance you’re on, I say, “no harm, no foul.”

  8. DeepCough | Dec 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm |

    Oh, don’t worry, Reefer Madness was just a movie, it wasn’t real.

  9. CosmicAmazing | Dec 1, 2011 at 4:41 pm |

    I LOLed. 

  10. justagirl | Dec 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm |

    damn that stop sign!  i be sitting there like it was a never ending red light.  der.

  11. justagirl | Dec 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm |

    damn that stop sign!  i be sitting there like it was a never ending red light.  der.

  12. justagirl | Dec 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm |

    but, at least i didn’t run it over.  alcohol is definitely more dangerous.

  13. justagirl | Dec 1, 2011 at 1:16 pm |

    but, at least i didn’t run it over.  alcohol is definitely more dangerous.

  14. Masshole | Dec 1, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    In my town it is a well established FACT that drunk driving is far worse than driving stoned. In fact, the D.A.R.E. instructor/town police officer stated publicly that he does not condone either, but would rather people drive stoned than drunk. That pretty much settled it for me.     

  15. Masshole | Dec 1, 2011 at 1:17 pm |

    In my town it is a well established FACT that drunk driving is far worse than driving stoned. In fact, the D.A.R.E. instructor/town police officer stated publicly that he does not condone either, but would rather people drive stoned than drunk. That pretty much settled it for me.     

  16. Ronniedobbs | Dec 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm |

    What if you are both?  Does one cancel out the other or something like that? 

  17. Ronniedobbs | Dec 1, 2011 at 5:45 pm |

    What if you are both?  Does one cancel out the other or something like that? 

  18. Ronniedobbs | Dec 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm |

    What if you are both?  Does one cancel out the other or something like that? 

  19. You get the spins and throw up. So no, 1+1 does not equal zero. 

  20. Ahh more data ignored by doughy white drunkards driven around in limos… Or Congress.

  21. Ahh more data ignored by doughy white drunkards driven around in limos… Or Congress.

  22. Nevermind driving. Playing the piano like a crazed lunatic is far worse! 

  23. Anonymous | Dec 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm |

    OR WAS IT!?

  24. Ricky Jazzercise | Dec 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm |

    I drive high all the time, and for a while I felt kind of guilty about it. Years later I realized I live in a big city with horrible traffic and that pot pretty much eliminates my frustration with this fact. Pot, also really helps with road rage. Look into it.

  25. Ricky Jazzercise | Dec 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    I drive high all the time, and for a while I felt kind of guilty about it. Years later I realized I live in a big city with horrible traffic and that pot pretty much eliminates my frustration with this fact. Pot, also really helps with road rage. Look into it.

  26. sabotage | Dec 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm |

    some kid just died in my town this week after his friends brought him home drunk from the club while teasing that he was too drunk to drive. But he didnt want to go home at that time to his pregnant girlfriend, so after they dropped him off he got into his car to show off to his friends, sped by them giving them a look and crashed into a pole and died in front of them. He was wicked drunk and high on cocaine. I he were stoned he probably would have been too comfortable and hungry to not want to be home on his couch.

  27. sabotage | Dec 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm |

    some kid just died in my town this week after his friends brought him home drunk from the club while teasing that he was too drunk to drive. But he didnt want to go home at that time to his pregnant girlfriend, so after they dropped him off he got into his car to show off to his friends, sped by them giving them a look and crashed into a pole and died in front of them. He was wicked drunk and high on cocaine. I he were stoned he probably would have been too comfortable and hungry to not want to be home on his couch.

  28. cheesecake | Dec 1, 2011 at 8:01 pm |

    http://www.9gag.com its funny like you.

  29. A previous stoner | Dec 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm |

     WOW! They verified what all of my stoner friends have known for years. If only the government could figure out the things that stoners do….

  30. A previous stoner | Dec 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm |

     WOW! They verified what all of my stoner friends have known for years. If only the government could figure out the things that stoners do….

  31. justagirl | Dec 1, 2011 at 8:47 pm |

    “run you fools!”    lol!  thanks.  (:

  32. cheesecake | Dec 1, 2011 at 8:58 pm |

    ” I must fly, My people need me.”

  33. Sorry but marijuana will never be legalized! Hate to say it but it won’t. Such a nice dream but it will always loose, no matter what.. 

  34. Sorry but marijuana will never be legalized! Hate to say it but it won’t. Such a nice dream but it will always loose, no matter what.. 

    • Why? You being so all knowing.. Why wont it ever be legal? Government owns the drug cartels, making too much profit while it’s illegal, profiting from both sides, etc..?? Tell me WHY!!?? 

  35. Why? You being so all knowing.. Why wont it ever be legal? Government owns the drug cartels, making too much profit while it’s illegal, profiting from both sides, etc..?? Tell me WHY!!?? 

  36. Stonerbros | Dec 2, 2011 at 11:26 am |

    fuck im baked

  37. Stonerbros | Dec 2, 2011 at 7:26 am |

    fuck im baked

  38. Im fucking baked as fuck

  39. DeepCough | Dec 3, 2011 at 3:56 am |

    Smoke weed everyday.

  40. Interesting study. It’s surprising too that this option can be taken into consideration for the medical drugs to be legalized. But if it keeps people from losing their lives in car accidents, that means it must help. Although it’s an unusual solution, and a controversial one too, if scientists give the thumbs up, that it’s going to be safer on the streets from now on, it’s worth a shot.

  41. Interesting study. It’s surprising too that this option can be taken into consideration for the medical drugs to be legalized. But if it keeps people from losing their lives in car accidents, that means it must help. Although it’s an unusual solution, and a controversial one too, if scientists give the thumbs up, that it’s going to be safer on the streets from now on, it’s worth a shot.

Comments are closed.