Throughout the discussions surrounding marijuana legalization in Washington, there were concerns expressed by safety advocates that decriminalizing pot use for adults would increase the incidence of impaired driving.
Marijuana proponents disagreed with that hypothesis, claiming that the drug doesn't impair driving ability nearly as much as alcohol use does. While there have been studies that recorded the use of marijuana during auto accidents, there wasn't any research that specifically focused on pot use as opposed to other factors.
Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a "study" which looked at how both alcohol and marijuana use affected accident rates. The research tried to isolate the individual variables which contributed to crash risk, such as alcohol use, age, gender, race, and other factors as well as put use.
Not surprisingly, the study found a high correlation between accidents and alcohol consumption.
But when it came to marijuana, it was a different story. From the study: "[A]nalyses incorporating adjustments for age, gender, ethnicity, and alcohol concentration level did not show a significant increase in levels of crash risk associated with the presence of drugs." (That statement refers to all illegal drugs, by the way.)
Hopefully, this study will be the impetus for dispelling the myth that pot legalization makes driving more dangerous for everyone. While everyone would agree that choosing to drive while high should still remain illegal, this study will hopefully serve to assuage the fears of people who worry about marijuana legalization leading to an auto accident epidemic.