French Study: Alcohol Worse Than Marijuana When Driving

alcohol-worse-than-marijuanaMarijuana has been in the news lately. As states legalize it one by one, the question of driving under the influence of pot looms large. Proponents of marijuana sometimes claim that driving while stoned (or buzzed) on marijuana is not as dangerous as under alcohol. For that reason, they want more lenient laws for cannabis DUIs.

Opponents of this view note that marijuana is a narcotic that affects judgement and reaction time. It hampers coordination and in general makes driving harder for anyone who has smoked before driving. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is among the organizations who contend that cannabis and driving don’t mix.

It’s apparent, from current research, that no one should drink or use marijuana before driving But which is worse?

A new study from France takes the view that alcohol is the more dangerous drug when it comes to driving.

The French Metropolitan Police analyzed data from fatal road accidents in the year 2011. The results are worth remembering:

Drivers under the influence of alcohol are 17.8 times more likely to be responsible for a fatal accident [than unimpaired drivers].

Drivers under the influence of cannabis are 1.65 times more likely to be responsible for a fatal accident [than unimpaired drivers].

That’s quite a difference.

Moreover, the study crunched more numbers and found that if no drivers exceeded the legal alcohol limit, almost 28 percent of fatal collisions would be prevented. However, if no drivers exceeded the legal alcohol limit, almost 28 percent of fatal collisions would be prevented. However, if no drivers drove under the influence of cannabis, about 4 percent of fatal collisions would be prevented.

Once again, quite a difference.

There’s a lot more work to be done, but he evidence seems to condemn alcohol as the more dangerous intoxicant. So it would be wise not to believe proponents who claim they can drive easily while on marijuana. Legalization is one thing – alcohol, after all, is legal too – but driving is a task that takes alertness and a focused mind, the very quality that any intoxicant seeks by its nature to dull. Just because the the study shows alcohol worse than marijuana, doesn’t mean that the latter is okay for driving.

Don’t drive stoned. Don’t drive drunk. Don’t drive impaired.