Weed Makes Kids Better Drivers, According to Kids

One-third of surveyed teenagers said smoking marijuana made them a better driver, while 41 percent said it had no effect.
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(PHOTO: CBP PHOTOGRAPHY/FLICKR)

(PHOTO: CBP PHOTOGRAPHY/FLICKR)

Teens are teens. They smoke weed—and duuuude—they think it makes them better drivers because, like, my haaaaands are clear bro, and it feels like I'm one with the car—yoooooo—does that say something about the human-industrial-car complex or am I just suuuuuper high, according to a recent survey of high school juniors and seniors from Liberty Mutual. Zachary Tracer—Churnalism disclaimer: Zach is a friend—has the report over at Bloomberg:

Thirty-four percent of those who have driven while high say the drug makes them a better motorist, and 41 percent said it had no effect, Boston-based Liberty Mutual said. Among teens who drove under the influence of alcohol, 62 percent said drinking affected their driving for the worse.

Teens’ attitudes show that parents need to do a better job of educating children about safe driving, Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions said in a statement today disclosing survey results. They found that 23 percent of teens had driven under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or prescription drugs used illegally.

So, that's 75 percent who believe that smoking weed does not negatively affect their driving. As Tracer notes, on their site, NORML summarizes the latest research linking marijuana use and driving impairment: "Marijuana has a measurable yet relatively mild effect on psychomotor skills, yet it does not appear to play a significant role in vehicle crashes, particularly when compared to alcohol." While the National Institute for Drug Abuse leans a little more strongly toward the no-you-should-not-get-high-and-then-drive-a-vehicle side:

- A meta-analysis of approximately 60 experimental studies—including laboratory, driving simulator, and on-road experiments—found that behavioral and cognitive skills related to driving performance were impaired in a dose-dependent fashion with increasing THC blood levels.

- Evidence from both real and simulated driving studies indicates that marijuana can negatively affect a driver’s attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences.

- A study of over 3,000 fatally-injured drivers in Australia showed that when marijuana was present in the blood of the driver, he or she was much more likely to be at fault for the accident. Additionally, the higher the THC concentration, the more likely the driver was to be culpable.

- Research shows that impairment increases significantly when marijuana use is combined with alcohol. Studies have found that many drivers who test positive for alcohol also test positive for THC, making it clear that drinking and drugged driving are often linked behaviors.

Either way, it seems pretty clear that neither organization considers weed to be driving PED. Sorry dudes and dudettes.

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