A study made by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that driving under the influence of drugs such as marijuana is less risky than drunk driving. However there’s no need to rejoice, as the authors of the study admitted they need to look into the matter a bit more throughly.
Another thing one should look into is related to gender differences or driving experience, and most importantly it is related to age. So the older the driver is, the more alike are the symptoms associated with driving under the influence. Drugs and alcohol can end up having the very same effect if the driver is a bit older. Giving an exact figure as far as “older” is concerned will probably be detailed in future studies. The human mind evolves in so many different ways, so it’s hard to just assume an exact threshold.
The NHTSA study was done on over 3,000 drivers who had been involved in crashes during a 20-month span in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Apart from these they also looked into 6,000 controls who drove in the same area, same period of time, but did not get into traffic incidents or accidents.
It goes without saying that the study proved once again that alcohol consumption is strongly related to car crash risk. Drivers with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% were twice more likely to get into a crash than sober drivers. But once the 0.08% increases, the risk of getting into a crash is 6 times higher for drivers with a 0.10% BAC and 12 times higher for the ones with a 0.15% BAC.
On the other hand, when it came to marijuana, the results they found were quite surprising:
“This analysis shows that the significant increased risk of crash involvement associated with THC and illegal drugs is not found after adjusting for these demographic variables [that] may have co-varied with drug use and accounted for most of the increased crash risk. For example, if the THC-positive drivers were predominantly young males, their apparent crash risk may have been related to age and gender rather than use of THC.”
But keep in mind the fact that the authors of the study did clarify the fact that driving while stoned doesn’t mean one is risk free. It was just an objective perspective that compared the effects of the two types of entertainment enhancers.