The Real Facts on Marijuana and Driving

J. Michael Walsh, Ph.D.
October 12, 2010
The consumption of illegal psychoactive drugs (e.g. amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, etc.) is a problem of growing concern in many countries around the world, as these substances are increasingly detected in impaired and injured drivers. Drugged driving is a serious public health concern because it puts not only the user at risk, but all others who share the road. Despite the mounting evidence that drugged driving is common, the American public seems unaware of this fact. Perhaps this is because drugged drivers are less frequently detected, prosecuted, or referred to treatment, compared to drunk drivers.
Other than alcohol, Marijuana is the most prevalent drug detected in impaired and injured drivers. Marijuana affects areas of the brain that control the body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment abilities, and its effects last for hours after the drug is used. Evidence from both on-the-road and simulated driving studies indicate marijuana can negatively influence a driver’s attentiveness, perception of time and speed, and the ability to draw on information obtained through past experiences.
Driving is a complex task that requires continuous information processing and coordinated responses to ever-changing traffic, while operating a multi-ton vehicle. Clearly, illegal drugs like marijuana that alter a driver’s normal brain functioning can create an extremely dangerous situation.

Source: Tuesday, October 12, 2010

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