Stoners Are 'Safer' Drivers Than Lushes
Report finds those with THC in systems crash far less often than drunk drivers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2015 3:28 PM CST
Still probably not a good idea.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – As more states push to legalize marijuana, scientists have started to turn their attention toward the effects of driving after toking up. Stoners will likely rejoice at two recent studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that appears to put them on the safer side of things: According to the first study, drivers with a BAC of 0.08 are 400% more likely to crash their vehicles than a sober person, KUSA-TV reports. However, drivers who test positive for THC—the mind-altering ingredient in pot—are only 25% more likely to crash, which drops to just 5% once age, gender, and other factors are accounted for. "At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment," the second study's authors say.

Other drugs besides alcohol, including painkillers and antidepressants, also are linked to much lower crash rates than alcohol, according to the Washington Post. A theory as to why THC may not result in as many crashes as booze: "Psychoactive drugs" are more complicated in how they react with one's body (and reaction can vary quite a bit by individual), and it's not nearly as predictable as alcohol, the studies' authors note, as per the Post; plus, THC may stay in a person's system for weeks, long after any noticeable effects have vanished. Says Colorado state Rep. Dan Pabon: "If you're texting and driving or haven't gotten enough sleep before you get behind the wheel, drinking and driving, smoking and driving—I mean, none of this is good," he tells KUSA. (If you're concerned about being killed by a drunk driver, maybe don't go out walking on Jan. 1.)