Most people have tried weed and think of it as something that makes them feel good, but most don’t consider the possible consequences. There are some situations in which smoking marijuana is a really bad idea!
Driving while high can be extremely dangerous, not only for you but for the other cars on the road and for the passengers in your car. Which is why you shouldn’t even think about getting behind the wheel when you’re high.
If you need more convincing about this issue, keep reading to learn just how dangerous driving while high can be.
The Effects of Driving While High
Marijuana contains psychoactive components (THC) that provides a euphoric high. It’s one of the main reasons why people use the substance. Cannabis provides a mind-altering effect that leaves users in a state of happiness and relaxation. Although these are a few of marijuana’s benefits, they’re also a serious concern when it comes to driving. Several studies state that driving while high can cause the following issues that can impede your driving abilities:
- Impaired motor coordination
- Impaired cognitive functions
- Slower reaction times
- Divided attention
- Lowered ability to concentrate
- Problems with short term memory
- Decreased time and distance perception
The Risks of Driving While High
With the recent changes to the marijuana laws, a lot of people assume this substance is completely safe and devoid of negative effects. In fact, recent polls suggest that a large number of people think driving while high is relatively safe. This is an assumption that needs to be corrected!
Driving is a complex and dangerous activity and claims more than 1.3 million lives worldwide every year. Other reasons to avoid driving high include:
- The risk of hurting you or someone else
- The potential of damaging property
- Being involved in a crash that destroys your car
- It’s illegal in some places, so you could be arrested and charged, which means you’ll have it on your criminal record for the rest of your life
- Having your license suspended or having to pay expensive fines
Is Driving While High Illegal?
The laws on driving while high in the US and Canada vary widely according to the drug laws. In America, 18 states have a zero tolerance law, which means if you’re caught driving high, you will be prosecuted. Other states have laws that are a little more nuanced and difficult to understand.
It’s also against the law to drive while high in Canada. Because driving while high is so common, law enforcement officers are trained to recognize the signs. So if you get in your car and drive while high, you should know that the most likely case is that you will receive an impaired charge.
Marijuana and Traffic Accidents
The link between traffic accidents and driving high is still unknown. A number of studies suggest that driving high may be associated with a mild to moderate increase in motor vehicle accident risk. However, most of these studies are incomplete or confounded with other accident risk factors.
Cannabis is also the most common drug found in drivers that have been involved in traffic accidents, but this doesn’t mean that the accidents were actually caused by driving high. Cannabis can remain in the body for up to two weeks after ingestion, which means that the tested drivers may not have been impaired by the drug when they had the accident. This kind of information just adds further confusion to the issue and makes it more difficult to clearly define the effects of driving while high.
This issue requires further study before the true connection between driving high and traffic accidents can be uncovered. However, driving is a complicated and dangerous activity, and driving while you’re impaired by marijuana can only make the situation more dangerous for everyone involved.
When is it Safe to Drive?
One of the problems with smoking marijuana or taking other drugs is that you don’t always recognize when you’re impaired. You may feel as if you’re fine because the drug can impair your ability to judge your own state, or give you a false sense of confidence. That’s why it’s safest if you avoid driving high completely.
As a general rule, avoid driving within four hours of inhaling marijuana or six hours of ingesting it in any form. And if you feel at all euphoric or high, no matter how long it’s been since you took the marijuana, don’t get behind the wheel.
The following symptoms are common signs of marijuana impairment that affect driving ability:
- Poor coordination
- Red, swollen eyes
- Slow reaction times
- Distortions in perception such as blurred surroundings or difficulty focusing
Marijuana and Alcohol
Even more dangerous than driving while high is the tendency to drink when you’re high and then drive. It’s incredibly dangerous to drive when you’ve been drinking, and when you combine these two drugs and drive it’s a recipe for disaster. Recent studies have found that even taking in small amounts of these drugs together impairs driving ability more than either drug on their own.
Drivers who combine these drugs tend to make more errors and have more difficulty with driving related tasks, either of which could lead to dangerous if not fatal accidents. This effect is probably due to the fact that drinking alcohol increases THC levels in the blood stream, leading to a more intense high and greater impairment. Which is why you should never combine these two drugs and drive a vehicle, no matter how little you’ve had.
The evidence on the specific dangers of driving high is incomplete and contradictory. But what isn’t contradictory is the fact that marijuana affects your ability to focus, the speed of your reactions to unexpected events, as well as a number of other functions that are essential to driving. Which is why you should never drive while you’re impaired by marijuana, or let anyone else do so. Driving while high may seem harmless at the time, but it could cost a life, and that’s too precious a thing to risk.