A recent survey by insurance company Liberty Mutual, cited in Bloomberg, found that teens who drove after smoking pot “said the drug either improves their performance behind the wheel or is no hindrance.”
The survey found that 41% of teens said that marijuana had “no effect” on their ability to drive. Even more disturbing, 34% said that marijuana actually improves their driving. Of the teens surveyed, 23% had driven after drinking alcohol or using marijuana or a prescription drug.
1,708 teens in 11th and 12th grade at 26 schools across the country contributed to the survey.
The idea that marijuana has no effect on driving—or that it somehow makes one a better driver—is seriously flawed and even dangerous. According to the article, NORML (an organization promoting the decriminalization of marijuana) argues that marijuana use doesn’t result in severe or long-lasting impairment of driving ability and that it does not result in car accidents at the same rate as alcohol. However, any level of impairment should be avoided, especially among young, inexperienced drivers. (According to the CDC, the leading cause of death for teens is motor vehicle accidents.)
Dave Melton, who takes part in overseeing safety initiatives at Liberty Mutual, expressed shock at the results of the survey, a sentiment that we share.
“We’ve been stressing the dangers associated with drinking and driving, and drugging and driving, for years and years and years, “ said Melton. “Our kids are still doing the same kinds of things.”
This survey highlights why it is so important for parents to teach their children about the dangers of impaired driving, which is not just driving drunk. It is also driving under the influence of drugs and driving while using a cell phone.
For more information on this subject, see our Distracted Driving and DWI/DUI Car Accidents pages.