It’s not that the idea is new. It’s that the prevalence of driving while impaired by drugs has been increasing. I’m just now seeing and hearing the campaign against it in media, as opposed to just warning labels on medicine.
It does seem like alcohol is still much worse than drugs when it comes to the danger it poses on the road. And statistics on the danger of drugs among drivers is lacking.
It’s bad but I’m not seeing data on how bad, probably because it’s just now getting attention. But as you suggest, the danger isn’t new. Drugs other than alcohol (legal or not) have been around much longer than vehicles.
As someone who’s grown up around a lot of stoners, there are indeed people who are stoned but claim they’re not stoned just like with alcoholics who claim they’re not drunk when they’re drunk. And taking rides from people who are high definitely wasn’t the “driving 5 miles under” you see so many people claim, if you’re a shitty driver sober you’re an even shittier driver stoned.
I’m not claiming there’s no risk. I’m claiming that the impact on accident rates isn’t very large. I’m in the insurance industry, and when states started to legalize cannabis, the insurance institute for highway safety (IIHS, an industry-funded research group that’s proved the benefit of airbags, automatic breaking, and many other safety features) did a bunch of studies attempting to prove it was a terrible idea, and to lobby against it. And they failed.
They did eventually find some data showing a small increase in accidents in states with legal cannabis, but it took them years. It’s not a large effect. And the impact isn’t nearly as large as alcohol. Also, of course, there wasn’t a huge increase in use with legalization. Weed was easy to obtain illegally in most states when it was illegal.
Over the years I’ve been a sober passenger in a car driven by people who were drunk, high, distracted, sober.
Drunk people drive pretty badly. They take unnecessary risks. It’s scary to be in the car with them.
People that are high IME drive cautiously. They may be talkative or silent. They are prone to taking wrong turns.
Drivers who are distracted (just fought with SO, just lost job, etc) are almost as bad as drunk drivers. They turn to say something to the passenger and don’t look back to the road as quickly as they should. They are as scary as drunk drivers.
Sober people drive “normally”, where normally is normal for them. There are some really shitty sober drivers.
I stopped driving high before I stopped driving “buzzed”. The few times I drove high scared me. I couldn’t remember if I checked my blind spot before changing lanes, if I stopped at the stop sign. My mind would wander. The buzzed driving I did back in the day was more like a mission. I need to get from point A to B on backroads with the least amount of complications. My reaction time was still messed up and it wouldn’t have been an excuse if I hurt someone, but at least I was focused.
This was years ago when the BAC went from 1.5 to 1.1 to .08.
It is well-known that someone who is impaired by the effects of drugs often is not aware of the impairment, and may, in fact, erroneously believe himself to be performing at least as well as if he was sober.
This always needs to be taken into account, when evaluating anyone’s claims about how safely he can drive under the influence of any mind-damaging drug. Always.
I’m ashamed to say there was a time in my life I regularly drove while impaired by alcohol (don’t worry; I paid, big time). I drove high on weed exactly once. Scariest feckin’ thing ever. Even now, there’s plenty of things I regularly do around my house while drinking but I never attempt to do anything that requires motor control when I’m high.
NY state has put out a series of PSAs telling people that smoking pot is impaired driving and you can be arrested for DUI.
Cannabis cannot be consumed when operating a motor vehicle.
Cannabis impairs you. It is illegal and dangerous to drive
under the influence of cannabis. You can be charged with a
DUI and are subject to the same penalties as driving drunk.
The burning of cannabis by anyone in a vehicle is also illegal
under the open container law. VTL § 1227 (1).
Any driver or passenger engaged in a violation of the open
container law will be charged with a traffic infraction.
Crossing State Borders Since cannabis is illegal federally, you
cannot cross state or international borders in possession of
cannabis. It is also illegal to possess and use cannabis on
federal lands or property
mpaired driving under the influence of Cannabis continues to
be a misdemeanor under VTL § 1192. See additional
information on penalties associated with impaired driving.
I went to a wedding in a tiny town in the Sierras decades ago. On the morning we all left to go home, my friends and I had “a circle” before departing. I hadn’t been regularly smoking pot for a while before this so it hit me like a ton of bricks a few miles down the twisty mountain road. I stopped in the first town I came to and had a hearty breakfast that I lingered over with lots of coffee. I felt better, but not enough better, so I stopped in another small town that was only a mile or so down the road. It had a lot of antique shops, so I spent an hour or two browsing. By the time I hit the road, I felt 99% normal.
But it was scary, and I was hyper aware of my impairment.
I agree. The same thing applies to people who are impaired by drugs that are, without question, legally prescribed and taken for medical reasons.
My sister had some friends who had been smoking marijuana, and were pulled over while driving down the city’s freeway. One of them said, “Sorry, officer, we didn’t know we were speeding” and the officer replied, “You weren’t; I pulled you over because you were going 15mph.”
I think that would get into individual idiosyncrasy here, since I’ve been taking a beta blocker (metoprolol) for several months. Gets my heart rate down to a range my doctor likes, has zero impact on my alertness, coordination, reaction speed, or any other needed function for driving.