The dangers of drunk driving have long been established, but researchers have now clearly identified the risks of driving while under the influence of marijuana. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who smoke marijuana before driving are twice as likely to be involved in a car accident.
Researchers at Dalhouise University in Halifax, Nova Scotia examined nine existing studies involving 50,000 participants to determine the relationship between marijuana use and driver impairment. They discovered that people who smoke marijuana three to four hours before driving are twice as likely to participate in dangerous driving habits that can lead to fatal collisions, such as following cars too closely or swerving in and out of lanes.
The researchers suggest using this data to inform and guide campaigns against driving while under the influence of drugs. The information will prove to be especially beneficial in the wake of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's summer study that revealed a 55 percent increase in drug-related accidents from 1999 to 2009.
The study is the first of its kind to look at the effects of marijuana independent of any other substances.