How much does marijuana smoking negatively affect one’s ability to drive, and how do you measure these effects for law enforcement purposes? Backed by numerous research studies, most experts have concluded that smoking marijuana slows reaction time, impairs judgement and can lead to increased collision risk, putting both smokers and other motorists in harm’s way at the hands of those who choose to “toke and drive.”
Each of the first two states to legalize marijuana for non-medical uses has come up with a different solution to this very real problem. Since THC, marijuana’s primary active ingredient, stays in body for days or weeks, instead of just hours like alcohol, finding a fair yet effective solution is not cut-and-dry.
In Washington, lawmakers have chosen to set a legal limit for the amount of THC per micro-liter of blood that can legally be present in a driver’s system. Currently, that limit sits at 0.5 nanograms per micro-liter. Should the driver be over the limit, measured by blood testing, then the case is treated the same as an alcohol DUI, with stiff legal penalties including heavy fines and an immediate 90-day driver’s license suspension, even before conviction. Upon conviction, penalties include an automatic driver’s license suspension for up to 4 years, plus drug rehab classes and other penalties.
There is an issue with this approach, though. Regular marijuana users can exceed this limit, even if they haven’t smoked in hours or days and are not currently impaired.
Colorado has chosen a different approach. There is no set legal limit for THC in the blood, with potential for a DUI based solely on driving impairment. Although this avoids the pitfalls of a blood measurement, the approach introduces a subjective element, where it is purely up to the discretion of law enforcement to decide if the driver is too impaired to drive. Without an objective solution, we envision heavy legal challenges to marijuana-related DUIs in Colorado.
If convicted, the driver faces similar penalties to in Washington. That means fines, driving privilege suspension, and even jail time upon multiple convictions.
Be Safe, Be Smart
If you choose to use marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes and then drive, know that you will be impaired to a degree, even if you don’t realize it at the time. You could be subjecting yourself to serious legal trouble. Experts advise waiting at least 3 hours; at least 10 hours, some say; before driving.
Still, moderate-to-heavy users could find themselves subject to DUI even when following this advice as current Washington law is constructed. Legal marijuana and DUI laws are still in development. Everyone has the goal of keeping motorists safe, but the right solutions are still very much in question.
A new study by Carrentals UK suggests that women may well be better drivers than men. Asking 700 adults about their driving records and ability to identify common road signs, the car rental shopping service found women were less likely to have been caught speeding, carried fewer “points” on their driving records, and were less likely to have been involved in an accident.
According to the sample, 67% of men and 44% of women had been involved in at least one accident in their driving careers. Men were also twice as likely to have been caught speeding, while each gender was equally poor at identifying common U.K. road signs.
While men certainly tend to think they’re the better drivers, we’ll leave that judgement up to you. Be the best driver you can be: learn and observe traffic laws, avoid distracted driving and leave the racing on the track.
Carrying an emergency kit specially tailored to use in your car will help keep you safe and comfortable should you become lost or stranded. Here are the essential items to a good emergency kit. As the old saying goes, it is better to be safe than… well, you know the rest.
Water and Food
Carrying enough food, and especially water, to last at least a couple days could mean the difference between life and death. Look for high-calorie food bars and individual boxes or pouches of water to save space.
Keep a heavy wool blanket as well as some emergency blankets or bags in the truck. Instant-activated warm packs and rain/snow ponchos are a good idea as well.
A flashlight—LED lights last longer—has many benefits in an emergency, from helping you perform emergency car repairs to finding assistance. Lightsticks and emergency candles are other options.
You can buy a compact first aid kit or build your own. A good kit should include pain relievers, sterile pads, alcohol prep pads, bandages, soap, gauze pads, and micropore tape, while toilet paper and safety pins are nice to have.
Tools and Roadside Safety
Signal flares warn other motorists they are approaching a broken-down vehicle and can be used to find help if you become lost. A basic tool kit should include a multi-purpose knife and shovel.
Hypermiler (noun): Any individual who goes to extraordinary lengths to squeeze every last mile out of every gallon of fuel. Practices obsessive and sometimes unsafe techniques to save fuel as a matter of principle.
For the second year in a row, drivers hailing from Fort Collins, Colorado have been named America’s safest in the Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report. The study uses reported collision data to determine how likely drivers in a given city are to experience a crash. At once every 14 years, Fort Collins drivers are 28.6% less likely to be involved in a collision than the national average of 10 years. For cities with at least 1 million people, Phoenix, Ariz. drivers are the safest.