April 11, 2009

Men who smoke pot are more accident prone

Men who use marijuana are more likely to be in an automobile accident than sober drivers, researchers in Canada contend.

Researchers at the Universite de Montreal found that 35 percent of the 83 participants they studied had been involved in one or more crashes with material damage in the previous three years. They also said 30 percent of them admitted to using pot and 80 percent of those said they drove under the influence of marijuana at least once in the previous year.

While a news release posted on the university's Web site on March 11 didn't say what percentage of the marijuana users among the participants had accidents, it quoted the scientists as saying they observed that dangerous driving behaviors are interrelated.

Individuals scoring high on impulsivity or sensation-seeking scales demonstrated an elevated risk of driving under the influence of cannabis, said study senior author Jacques Bergeron, a professor in the university's department of psychology.

To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the association between driving under the influence of cannabis and a wide range of dangerous driving behaviors.

The pool of 83 men ages 17 to 49 were observed in driving simulators. The study was published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.

To dissuade sensation-seekers from driving under the influence or other dangerous behaviors, Bergeron and fellow researcher Isabelle Richer recommend authorities create arousing and unconventional intervention messages that command attention.

On-road risky behaviors tend to be inter-correlated, so interventions should focus on a broad range of dangerous behaviors, Richer said.