Let’s Face It, High Driving Is Just as Dumb as Drunk Driving

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Far too often, members of America’s expanding Cannabis Nation think they are better automobile drivers when they are stoned.

That is an outdated notion that needs to end.  Drugged driving, as it’s officially titled, is a legitimate threat to personal and public safety, even if it’s not as pervasive as drinking-related traffic incidents.

Don’t believe it? Look at the stats.

Colorado’s Department of Transportation has the figures, and they aren’t pretty. In 2006, there were 721 drivers involved in fatal incidents. 27 drivers tested positive for cannabis only — around 3.74 percent. In 2012, there were fewer total fatalities — 630, but 35 drivers tested positive for cannabis only. That’s 5.56 percent.

Columbia University delivered a study to the American Journal of Epidemiology finding that, in 20 states that had legalized marijuana in some form or another, fatal accidents involving drivers with cannabis in their systems increased three-fold from 1999 to 2010.

People can debate the impact of drugged driving versus drunk driving, and discuss how, when they drive stoned, many claim to drive under the speed limit and check eight times before changing lanes. The more effective exercise is to just not do it. Instead, those under the influence of cannabis can lead by example and give the nation one more reason to support legal marijuana policy.

In our technology-driven world, it’s incredibly easy to stay away from the driver’s seat while impaired.

Everyone is familiar with on-demand car services Uber and Lyft. The two industry leaders provide private transportation in minutes at prices below traditional taxis and hired drivers. The drivers range from licensed limo operators to average Joe’s looking for some extra cash.

There are other services available, too.

Curb is one of them, and it’s different than its competitors because it provides on-demand access to professional car services and traditional taxis (i.e., no amateur drivers). The company was operating as taxi-hailing service Taxi Magic before it rebranded and widened its appeal. Today, users can reach Curb in 60 cities and can hail cabs from 90 companies, in addition to fully licensed and insured car services. In Colorado, the company works with industry giant Yellow Cab. Conveniently, riders can pay with cash, too.

Today, Curb and Weedmaps launched a joint promotional campaign to encourage safe driving. Through the campaign, first-time Curb users can use the promo code “WEEDMAPS” to receive $15 off their first ride.

“Our partnership with Weedmaps supports Curb’s core mission of providing safe, reliable ground travel to riders around the country,” said Matt Carrington, Curb’s vice president of marketing. “Together we can spread the word about responsible consumption and provide individuals with a viable, immediate alternative to driving impaired.”

If one is light on cash after a night (or day) of fun, fall back on the old reliable designated driver system. It’s free, and it keeps everyone safe. For those at a friend’s party — it’s best to stay there. Even with a pooch at home waiting, an overnight absence is preferable to a permanent one.

Along with any other intoxicant, cannabis-users have no reason to get behind the wheel after a night up in smoke. While a chauffeured ride home may cost a couple bucks, it’s far less than the some of the alternatives.

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About Author

With a background in investment analysis and financial journalism, Michael began covering the cannabis industry after seeing the tremendous opportunities available. His work has appeared on The Motley Fool, AOL's Daily Finance, and has been cited in The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, and other publications. Michael also owns and operates the independent record label, Phaedra Records.

10 Comments

  1. Testing positive for cannabis is not an under the influence test. It’s a metabolite test that can reach back days. The stats quoted are not an accurate indicator of driving while high. It’s incredible that this site doesn’t know this.

  2. While I agree that driving while high is dangerous, this article muddles its message with dubious statistics. While more fatal accident victims tend to show THC in their systems after MMJ is legalized, there is typically no associated increase in the actual number of fatal accidents. This could merely indicate that more people are using cannabis.

  3. The article would have more credibility with a more honest headline:
    “Let’s Face It, High Driving Can Be Almost as Dumb as Drunk Driving”.

    The article comes from a point of honesty, but the slightest exaggeration can really turn a lot of people off to the whole thing.

  4. Very poorly written article. Author is not very knowledgable. Doesn’t identify difference between metabolite and active cannabinoids in blood. I know some states don’t care, but intelligent readers do. WA and CO definitely make a distinction.

    Also, the CO study doesn’t say that more people are driving stoned. It suggests that more people are using weed. Any assertion that weed intoxication is affecting accidents is questionable. Also, if there is a huge influx of dangerously stoned drivers, how does that explain that why accidents are down?

    Some people drive much better when high than others, especially given that it doesn’t directly affect reaction time or reduce inhibitions and provide liquid courage like alcohol. Experience is a huge plus also (in some cities, many taxi drivers are routinely stoned — only the idiots fail a pee test.).

    Distraction is the real issue with weed, and that varies by location and what’s going on in the car, experience with the route and traffic, weather, etc. Whatever the case, a stoned driver focusing by himself in the car is likely a lot safer than a car full of kids with the stereo blaring and everyone stone sober. The stoned driver will definitely be driving slower.

  5. Fewer total fatalities. Slightly more people testing cannabis metabolites only. Majority of drivers involved in fatal accidents are sober. Previously done studies that prohibitionists love to quote say cannabis causes a 2x chance of accident. That puts it equivalent to texting, below talking on the phone, changing the radio, and a host of other distractions. .08 BAC is 11x chance, by comparison. Excessive speed, failure to signal, and not keeping proper distances while completely sober remain the #1 causes of all accidents.

    Driving high is certainly not smart if you aren’t experienced with being high, and smoking while driving causes a distraction, just as it does when smoking cigarettes. But please don’t try to compare it to driving drunk.

  6. TorontosaurusEx on

    I medicate several times daily since the early nineties, drive over 100 miles daily to and from work and carry a six star insurance rating… for over 20 years. So much for “research data”
    and speaks volumes for their compilers. It is up to the individual to govern themselves and be responsible for their own conduct in life. Fatalities are on the increase for distracted drivers (texting, emailing, gps display positioning, etc.) rather than those driving….’stoned’…ha ha!
    I’m sure when you look carefully at the stats, you should also see some other causal indicators such as smartphone use during the accident BEFORE you pin it on cannabis.
    Finance types like you should keep your opinions directed to the masters you serve, who drive while on Viagra,Oxycontin and Dom Perignon unabated.
    All data can be misinterpreted if you take the subjective approach…and make the pieces to fit the particular agenda

  7. States that have passed medical marijuana laws have experienced a 9% reduction in traffic fatalities compared to the other states. An increase in the number of people involved in such accidents with THC metabolites in their system is merely indicative of the increased number of people who are cannabis consumers, not that cannabis is the cause of the accidents. Is driving high a good idea? Of course not. But to put it on the same level of danger as driving drunk is ludicrous.

  8. Okay, this article is such bullshit. First, when someone get drunk, they lose the ability to tell how inebriated they are. Drunks are impaired, plain and simple. This doesn’t happen to people that consume marijuana. You can still realize you’re not good to drive and make the good decision not to. Some people do feel loopy after taking marijuana. Some people don’t feel loopy and can drive fine. The people who do feel loopy still have the cognitive ability to see/feel they shouldn’t go driving and they don’t. Because one of the main effects of alcohol is lower of inhibitions; which is okay at a low rate, but when drunk it means you start making bad decisions because you are no longer able to use your brain and parts of it are basically turning off. Nothing remotely like this happens to marijuana users. This issue is a lot more complex than this author knows.
    And the fact people can consume marijuana and drive perfectly fine; should reassure the voting public that marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol (for driving and fewer alcohol related crimes likes domestic violence) and cigarettes (health-wise).

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