Report Shows Drivers Become Easily Distracted
POSTED: 12:40 pm EDT June 7, 2010 UPDATED: 12:57 pm EDT June 7, 2010
HARTFORD, Conn. — A study from researchers based at Hartford Hospital reveals that marijuana has little effect on the group’s simulated driving skills, but did find drivers were more easily distracted under the influence.
Researchers from Hartford Hospital and the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine assessed the simulated driving performance of 85 subjects in a double-blind, placebo controlled trial.
Volunteers responded to various simulated events, which were associated with automobile crash risk. Those risks included a driver who was entering an intersection illegally, deciding to stop or go through a changing traffic light, responding to a presence of emergency vehicles, avoiding a collision with a dog who entered into traffic and maintaining safe driving during an in-the-car distraction.
"It does not in any way say that it is safe to drive under the influence of any drug," said investigator Beth Anderson, PhD. "It merely shows us, we need to study this further. We need to know what marijuana does to the brain. We need to understand the ramifications. To create public policy and to keep people safe, you need to know what’s really happening in the brain. You need to know the science behind it. You have to have the facts."
The marijuana used in the study was provided by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the University of Mississippi, the only legal source of cannabis in the United States.
"The results do not imply that it is safe to drive under the influence of marijuana, especially because we know people aren’t just smoking marijuana," said Anderson. "They do it while drinking. They do this when others are in the car, listening to music, talking on cell phones or texting. These behaviors distract drivers and are even more dangerous when someone has been using marijuana."