It can be quite annoying to have to deal with people giggling and reeking of marijuana at the movie theater or your favorite restaurant. When you are on the road, crossing paths with someone under the influence could be downright dangerous.
While some research indicates that fatal crashes have declined since legalization in Colorado, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the potential risks of sharing the road with someone under the influence of intoxicating chemicals like THC, the active intoxicant in marijuana. Although marijuana alone isn’t particularly dangerous, many people have more than one intoxicant in their system when they drive impaired.
While you can’t always identify stoned drivers on the road, there are certain behaviors commonly associated with marijuana users at the wheel.
Unlike drunk drivers, marijuana users recognize their impairment
One of the big problems with drunk drivers is that they tend to underestimate the impact of their alcohol consumption on their driving safety. They may assume that they are less impaired than they actually are. They can also fail to properly recognize the changes in their driving habits, leading to increased risk for a crash.
Marijuana users, on the other hand, seem acutely aware of the potentially intoxicating effects of their marijuana consumption. That means that they have a greater tendency to adjust their driving habits for their changed abilities. Believe it or not, someone who seems to be focusing a little too much on safety could be a stoned driver.
Drivers who are going under the speed limit when the road conditions don’t require it, as well as drivers who slow down far too much before making a turn could be under the influence of marijuana. If it seems like someone might be overcompensating and driving a little too cautiously, that could be due to the paranoia that marijuana sometimes causes in its users.
Signs of confusion at the wheel can also be a red flag for marijuana use
Modern drivers are a little too dependent on digital navigation devices. That can mean that people approach an intersection thinking they will turn left when they really need to turn right. Not everyone who makes sudden changes to their driving tactics or direction is under the influence, but it is worth noting that those who suddenly switch lanes or directions could feel confused or discombobulated because of marijuana use.
Marijuana users may also have trouble focusing on driving or slower reactions times, which could lead them to make jerky, unnecessary corrections at the wheel. If you notice someone overreacting to minor issues on the road, that’s a potential red flag for impairment.
Those openly smoking in their vehicle could put you at significant risk
Marijuana has a near-instantaneous effect on the human body. People experience changes in their perception of time, their emotional state and their cognitive function within minutes if not seconds of ingesting smoked marijuana. If you see people smoking openly in their vehicle, whether they are passing a joint back and forth or using a vaporizing device, they may represent a substantial risk.
Not only are they currently in the process of increasing how impaired they are, but they are also distracting themselves by reaching for their pipe or the joint. Giving a wide berth to any drivers who have erratic, overly-cautious or clearly impaired driving behaviors can help you stay safe.
If you get into a crash caused by a driver whom you believe is under the influence of marijuana because of the way they smell or act immediately after the crash, be sure to advise the Colorado police officer who arrives at the scene of the accident. They can order chemical testing that can help you in the future if you need to seek compensation because of the crash.