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References on Drugs and Driving

Marijuana And Actual Driving Performance

U.S. Department of Transportation,
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(DOT HS 808 078), Final Report, November 1993


Marijuana's effects on actual driving performance were assessed in a series of three studies wherein dose-effect relationships were measured in actual driving situations that progressively approached reality. The first was conducted on a highway closed to other traffic. Subjects (24) were treated on separate occasions with THC 100, 200 and 300 g/kg, and placebo. They performed a 22-km road tracking test beginning 30 and 90 minutes after smoking. Their lateral position variability increased significantly after each THC dose relative to placebo in a dose-dependent manner for two hours after smoking. The second study was conducted on a highway in the presence of other traffic. Subjects (16) were treated with the same THC doses as before. They performed a 64-km road tracking test preceded and followed by 16-km car following tests. Results confirmed those of the previous study. Car following performance was only slightly impaired. The third study was conducted in high-density urban traffic. Separate groups of 16 subjects were treated with 100 g/kg THC and placebo; and, ethanol (mean BAC .034 g%) and placebo. Alcohol impaired performance relative to placebo but subjects did not perceive it. THC did not impair driving performance yet the subjects thought it had. These studies show that THC in single inhaled doses up to 300 g/kg has significant, yet not dramatic, dose-related impairing effects on driving performance.

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