The website 4AutoinsuranceQuote.com put out a 2012 press release on the study, which “looks at statistics regarding accidents, traffic violations, and insurance prices,” and “seeks to dispel the thought that ‘driving while stoned’ is dangerous.”
Research studies in the Netherlands at the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research showed that drivers with blood alcohol rates of .5 percent up to .8 percent had accidents five times more than other drivers, and with higher amounts of alcohol, accidents happening up to 15 times more often. But, the marijuana smokers actually showed these drivers posed no risk at all!
Reasons cited for stoned drivers not being much of a threat to public highway safety include their tendency to drive slower, and their propensity to stay home rather than go out partying.
In addition, one study by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that drivers with THC in their systems have accident responsibility rates lower than those of drug-free drivers.
“What law enforcement agencies and insurers do not understand is that driving while high is actually a safe activity,” CEO James Shaffer said. “I guess the key to safer driving is to use marijuana, but to do it under wraps.”
One study indicated that traffic related fatalities fell by up to nine percent in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Entitled “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption,” the study, conducted in November 2011, found increased cannabis use by adults decreased alcohol related traffic deaths in those states.
The study provides evidence that marijuana is a safer substitute for alcohol when it comes to health and also makes for safer drivers.
“Marijuana users often say that when they are high, they feel like they are driving 60 miles per hour but actually are only going 30 miles per hour,” Shaffer said. “When somebody is drunk driving, on the other hand, they often feel like they are driving 30 miles per hour but they are actually driving 80 miles per hour. This is what makes alcohol dangerous behind the wheel, and marijuana safe.”As an auto insurance provider, 4autoinsurancequote.org said that marijuana use can also have an indirect effect on insurance rates. Because of the correlation between marijuana use and lower rates of accident responsibility, they said marijuana users, as a group, can expect in the future to see lower insurance rates than non-marijuana users.
“The hypocrisy of it all is that if you get caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will be fined and perhaps thrown into jail,” Shaffer said. “What’s worse is that your insurance rates will definitely increase due to the traffic violation.”
According to 4autoinsurance.com, the Top 10 reasons marijuana users are safer drivers are as follows:
1. Drivers who had been using marijuana were found to drive slower, according to a 1983 NHTSA study.2. Marijuana users were able to drive straight and didn’t have trouble staying in their own lanes, according to a 1993 NHTSA study done in the Netherlands. The same study concluded that marijuana had very little effect on overall driving ability.
3. Drivers who had smoked marijuana were less likely to try to pass other cars and were more likely to drive at a steady speed, according to a University of Adelaide study done in Australia. The study showed no danger from marijuana and driving unless the drivers had also been using alcohol.
4. Drivers high on marijuana are less likely to drive recklessly, according to a study done in the United Kingdom in 2000 by the UK Transport Research Lab. The study was actually undertaken to prove that pot impairs driving, but instead it showed the opposite — that stoned drivers were actually safer than many other drivers on the road.
5. States that allow medical marijuana see a reduction in highway fatalities; for instance, Colorado and Montana have had a nine percent drop in traffic deaths and a five percent drop in beer sales.
6. Low doses of marijuana were found to have little affect on the ability to drive a car in a Canadian study in 2002. These drivers were found to be in much fewer car crashes than alcohol users.7. Most marijuana smokers have fewer crashes because they tend to stay home instead of driving.
8. Marijuana smokers are thought to be more sober drivers; traffic information from 13 of the states where medical cannabis is legal showed that these drivers are actually safer and more careful than many other drivers on the road. These studies were conducted by the University of Colorado and Montana State University, exploring the relationship between legal medical marijuana and deaths in traffic accidents.
9. Multiple studies show that marijuana smokers are less likely to be risk takers than those who use alcohol; the studies showed that marijuana use calmed them down and made them pay more attention.
10. Cannabis smoking drivers were shown to follow other vehicles at safer distances, which made they less likely to cause or have crashes.
“Every test seemed to come up with these same results in all of the countries they were done in,” 4autoinsurance.org concludes. “Even so, insurance companies will still penalize any driver in an accident that has been shown to have been smoking pot, so this doesn’t give drivers free reign to smoke pot and drive.”