Illinois Travel Group Says Weed-Using Drivers Take More Risks
With recreational marijuana sales in Illinois setting new sales records almost every month since last year's legalization, AAA Chicago is out with a warning about driving stoned.
I guess if I were to bottom-line their thoughts, it would simply be "Don't smoke weed and get behind the wheel of your vehicle. Period." But, as you might imagine, there's a little bit more to it than that.
Some new research from AAA suggests drivers who consumed marijuana within the past 30 days were more likely to engage in risky behavior like speeding, texting, intentionally running red lights, and aggressive driving. Well, that pretty much covers almost everything I've ever found myself swearing at someone about on the road. Okay, so the AAA research doesn't say anything about left-lane hogging, and I swear at that, too.
Regardless of whether marijuana is legal or prescribed, driving under the influence of the drug is illegal and extremely dangerous. Although some drivers think marijuana makes them a better driver, research shows it can inhibit concentration, slow reaction times, and cloud judgment. It’s important that drivers know the risk that comes with marijuana and never drive impaired.
I love the part in her statement about how some drivers think weed makes them a better driver. Seriously? I think we all have (or had) that friend who said the same thing about drinking and driving. I clearly remember a co-worker who loudly proclaimed that he "drives a hell of lot better drunk than I do sober!" Several DUIs and tens of thousands of dollars later, maybe he began to realize how dumb that statement actually was. Luckily, he never hurt or killed anyone.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) points out on their website how foolish the idea of being a better driver while under the influence of marijuana really is:
Several scientific studies indicate that this is false. Research shows that marijuana impairs motor skills, lane tracking and cognitive functions. A 2015 study on driving after smoking cannabis stated that THC in marijuana also hurts a driver’s ability to multitask, a critical skill needed behind the wheel.