Which is More Dangerous: Driving High or Driving Drunk?

The popularity of cannabis in the United States is growing exponentially. By mid-2022, 19 states had already allowed the recreational use of various commercial varieties, and the number is quickly rising. Although the health effects of consuming weed are well-known, researchers are still discovering how it affects driving. On the other hand, alcohol is well known. It takes the lion’s share of the blame for several automobile accidents.

Unlike alcohol, weed slows you down (could cause you to drive slower), and you may consider getting high instead of getting drunk. After all, slower sounds safer. But before you light that joint, think about it. Is getting stoned less dangerous than drunk driving? Read on and learn how weed affects driving and why you should debate which is a greater danger. But first, let’s be clear about safety standards.

What is the Safety Threshold?

When weighing between two “evils,” we often side with what we consider the lesser evil. In this case, driving drunk seems like the worst option because it increases the risk of a car crash by 18 times. On the other hand, a driver high on weed is twice as likely to cause an auto accident. 

Federal law and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety regard weed as an illegal controlled substance. Drivers should be sober and focused. Any influence from alcohol, weed, or other drugs increases the hazard of an auto accident. Thus regardless of what is behind the high, you should not be behind the wheel. 

Whether drunk or high on pot, the hazard remains. The risk is way higher, unlike a sober and focused driver. You have a higher chance of being sued for damages, getting your auto insurance rates hiked, injury, or even fatality. 

That said, here are some facts about driving when stoned. 

It Slows You Down 

Studies reveal that consuming marijuana creates a skewed sense of time. The active ingredient – THC – makes one sludgy and everything else around feels like it is moving slower. If you smoke a joint before hitting the road, you will drive slower and respond slowly to situations.

Slowed responses could be catastrophic when driving. All drivers should be sober, alert, and focused. Some traffic rules, like the three-seconds-rule, were built based on the average response times of healthy and clear-headed individuals. However, when you are high on pot, you can not respond like a sober and alert person. You could run into another vehicle’s rear or jump a traffic light because you were too slow to react. The results could be minor (inconveniencing) or deadly auto accidents. 

Driving When Stoned Impairs Lane Judgment

Studies performed in Canada show that drivers who were high on pot were not only slower but also had trouble maintaining and shifting lanes.

This could cause trouble in busy city streets, and you could end up paying damages. In the freeways and highways, impaired lane judgment could lead to high-impact auto crashes that could result in critical injury or fatality. 

You Could Have Hallucinations When Driving 

Weed does not just slow you down and impair your judgment. Some people experience hallucinations and other mental effects. Whether the delirium is major or minor, it will significantly increase the risk of an auto accident. An episode of weed-induced paranoia while on the highway could trigger a panic attack and result in devastating auto accidents. 

Weed Impairs Your Judgment

Like alcohol, cannabis also muddles your perception of what is safe and what is not. After smoking a joint or chewing a gummy, you will get high and drift into a “dream world.” You will be out of touch with reality and unable to tell if you are fit to drive. Also, you cannot judge different situations, thus increasing the risk of causing an auto accident. 

A Final Word

Although driving drunk may seem like a worse evil – you are 18 times more likely to cause an accident – hitting the road while high on pot is not less dangerous. Statistics may show that compared to a drunk driver, you are less likely to cause an accident if you are on weed, but, the risk is double that of a sober driver.

Either way, you will be violating traffic rules and could get arrested and face penalties. Worse still, you could damage your car, and hurt yourself and other road users. So, if you are weighing between getting high or drunk before hitting the road, remember that both are dangerous and choose not to drive.

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