Motor vehicle collisions are a top cause of death for young people, and one of the leading factors is driving under the influence. While alcohol remains the number one cause of impaired driving accidents, many teens and college-aged students tend to underestimate the dangers associated with driving under the influence of marijuana.
In reality, THC is second on the list of substances most likely to be in the blood of impaired drivers. Studies have demonstrated that 4 to 14 percent of motorists who are injured or killed in traffic accidents tested positive for having THC in their blood. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.
With medical marijuana nearing a vote in Pennsylvania, it is more important than ever for college students to know that stoned driving is not safe.
Stoned Driving Dangers Underestimated by College Students
College students may be underestimating just how risky it is to drive after consuming products with cannabis. Research from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst provides plenty of cause for worry.
Researchers asked 640 incoming college freshman to respond to survey questions and 338 agreed. The students were asked about drug and alcohol use as well as whether they drove impaired. Just seven percent of the survey respondents admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol in the 30 days leading to the survey. By contrast, 44 percent of men and nine percent of women admitted that in the prior 30 days they had driven after consuming cannabis products.
Students were also very likely to get into the car with someone who had used marijuana. In fact, 51 percent of men and 35 percent of women were passengers in the car with a stoned driver.
The difference between the number of students driving drunk versus driving stoned is especially striking when considering that college students were significantly more likely to use alcohol than cannabis. A total of 30 percent of men and 13 percent of women had used cannabis in the 30 days before the survey, compared with 67 percent of men and 64 percent of women using alcohol.
College students need more education and information on the risks that stoned driving presents so that they can make better choices about not getting into the car after consuming products containing THC.