The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered in a new pair of studies that using marijuana before getting behind the wheel puts you at a lower risk for a car crash than drinking alcohol before driving.
The results emphasize that the amount of THC (the main active ingredient in marijuana) in a person's body doesn't correlate with their level of impairment like blood alcohol does, with the report's authors pointing out that it is difficult to predict how most psychoactive drugs are absorbed and eliminated from the body since they are "chemically complex molecules," according to the Chicago Tribune.
The authors added that "considerable differences exist between individuals with regard to the rates with which these processes occur. Alcohol, in comparison, is more predictable."
After surveying volunteers, the NHTSA found different results from people who drove with alcohol in their system and those driving with THC in their system, Town Hall reported.
One of the studies found that drivers with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 (the legal limit) were four times more likely to get into a crash than sober drivers. Drivers testing positive for THC have a 25-percent greater chance of crashing, but factoring in age, gender and other demographic information brought that number down to about five percent.
People who use marijuana, particularly heavy users, can test positive for THC days or even weeks after the last time they used it, and it stays in the system long after any psychoactive effects remain, the Chicago-Tribune reported.
The other study found that the amount of drivers on the road at night time on the weekends and testing positive for THC between 2007 and 2013/2014 grew from 8.6 percent to 12.6 percent. Those who oppose marijuana legalization often use such numbers to make sure people using these substances stay off the road.
However, the fear of legalized marijuana putting people on the road in danger has gone down since Colorado legalized the substance, which resulted in the number of highway fatalities in the state declining to "near-historic lows," Town Hall reported.
While there is currently no way to test people for marijuana intoxication, it is still possible to test for the presence of THC in a person's bloodstream, which doesn't necessarily mean he/she is intoxicated or impaired.
The authors of the study also emphasized that driving high isn't the best alternative to driving drunk, stating that there is always a risk with driving while under the influence of any drug. So, driving sober is your best ticket to a safe ride home.