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Alcohol vs. marijuana: study suggests one is worse for drivers

Drunk driving has long been a source of mayhem on the roads. The increasing prevalence of drugged driving has added a new layer to this problem, and when it comes to mixing drugs and automobiles marijuana is the clear first choice. Recently, a study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Office on National Drug Control Policy on the effects of alcohol and marijuana suggests that of these two intoxicants alcohol is clearly worse in its effects on drivers.

The study used a driving simulator to monitor what happened when test subjects spent 45 minutes of simulated driving time while having a blood alcohol content level of up to .065 percent or who had taken marijuana in a vaporized form. The purpose of the study was to see how well the participants were able to keep the simulated car inside of their lane.

The study concluded that those who consumed marijuana became more cautious and relied on "compensation" behaviors to offset what they felt were the negative effects of the drug on their driving ability. The alcohol consumers, on the other hand, tended to exhibit the opposite effect: instead of overestimating how alcohol affected their abilities, they underestimated it -- leading to their engaging in more risk-taking behaviors.

In terms of lane-keeping, the effect of marijuana was to increase the frequency of weaving within the lane. Those who drank alcohol, on the other hand, had much more trouble staying in the lane.

Another finding was that alcohol and marijuana taken together are like drinking more alcohol. Those who took both substances together experienced the same overconfidence and decrease in lane-keeping ability as with alcohol, even though their levels of blood concentration were below the intoxication threshold for either substance.

Drunk and drugged driving are serious sources of accidents and personal liability in Connecticut, and anyone who has been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident with a driver who has used alcohol, marijuana or any other drug should consult with a personal injury attorney to ascertain what remedies for injury to their persons and property are available.

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