As more and more states look to decriminalize and legalize marijuana use, there is a bigger push than ever before to remind people that getting behind the wheel after smoking or eating marijuana is illegal. To give an example of exactly why this is important, Michigan alone has seen a 73% increase in the last 3 years of accidents which have been caused because of drivers who have been under the influence of marijuana or its products. Speaking to a marijuana use while driving accident lawyer recently, it was made very clear to us why this is, and should be, illegal for drivers.
When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle it is important that you are fully focused, because there are all manner of hazards which can quickly present themselves. One of the main reasons why marijuana use is prohibited for drivers is that it has been shown to slow down reaction times. This is not something which is helpful for those who are driving vehicles and they can often cause accidents because of their inability to react to hazards on the road.
A common cause for accidents on our roads is drivers who don’t do a good job at measuring distances when they are driving. In fact this is the most common cause of all accidents, which come as a result of tailgating. Those who are under the influence of marijuana have been shown to be poor at calculating distances which makes them unsafe on the road. This is a critical aspect of driving and failing to leave the appropriate space between you and other drivers can put all road users at risk.
Another reason why driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime is that those who do are easily distracted. We have seen some truly terrifying accidents take place on our roads because drivers failed to focus on the road ahead, so anything which will increase the likelihood of it happening most definitely should be illegal. You only need to disengage for a matter of seconds to cause an accident, which can result in severe injuries or even loss of life.
The decrease in coordination which drivers who have ingested marijuana have is also a cause for concern. Any lack of spacial awareness is a big risk to other road users, and drivers can easily collide with other motorists or stationary objects if they don’t have a clear understanding of the amount of space available. This is a particular problem for drivers who are overtaking or taking sharp bends on rural roads. Those who are under the influence of cannabis lack spatial awareness and the impulse to exercise caution in tough situations.
Although the law may be changing around the use of these products, there is no doubt that restricting those who have ingested cannabis from driving is something which is very much here to stay.