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Drunk Driving vs. High Driving Statistics

Chicago Drug News

Whether you have had a little too much to drink or are coming down from an edible, getting behind the wheel of a car is a flat-out bad idea. This is not just speculation either. Many studies have been conducted to get a better understanding of just how insidious these behaviors are. Whether intoxicated with alcohol or marijuana, driving under the influence is a choice that not only puts the driver at risk but everyone and everything around them as well. Banyan Treatment Centers Palm Springs is going over drunk driving vs. high driving statistics to illustrate the issues at hand and how we can begin to address them.

Is Driving High the Same as Driving Drunk?

Both substances are known to impair driving skills immediately, although the nature and intensity of these impairments differ. Alcohol and cannabis have diverse effects on the brain, which might result in various patterns of impairment. With Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as its active element, intoxicating substances like cannabis tend to affect more highly automated driving activities than sophisticated skills requiring conscious control. Alcohol, on the other hand, has the reverse effect, making tasks involving cognitive control more difficult than automatic ones.

Furthermore, because of variables including tolerance, smoking habits, and THC absorption rates, cannabis effects vary greatly among users. To effectively manage the risks involved with impaired driving, it is imperative to comprehend the distinct effects that each substance has on one's ability to drive.

While drinking and using cannabis alone can both make driving less safe, doing it together raises serious safety issues. According to studies, when marijuana and alcohol are combined, the compensatory behavioral techniques that marijuana users frequently adopt are eliminated, which results in increased impairment even at dosages that might not be noticeable when either substance is used alone. The interaction between alcohol and cannabis, which can have additive or even multiplicative effects, emphasizes the importance of raising public awareness and educating people about the dangers of drunk driving. Differentiating between the impairments resulting from cannabis use and alcohol intoxication is becoming more and more important for policymakers, law enforcement, and the general public to establish measures that emphasize road safety as the legal landscape surrounding cannabis continues to change.

Driving While High vs. Drunk Statistics

In assessing the incidence of impaired driving, both cannabis and alcohol emerge as significant contributors. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that alcohol is implicated in 25% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities.1 Shockingly, around 31% of traffic crash fatalities in the United States in 2021 involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 g/dL or higher, leading to the tragic loss of 13,384 lives.2 These figures underscore the pervasive and serious consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.

When considering the impact of cannabis on impaired driving, it becomes evident that the statistical landscape differs from that of alcohol. Cannabis tends to acutely impair highly automatic driving functions, such as tracking and motor coordination, with effects that vary considerably among individuals. Epidemiological studies on cannabis use and crash risk have yielded inconclusive results, introducing complexities in understanding whether cannabis use alone significantly increases the risk of accidents.

Recent driving high statistics include:1

  • Between 6% and 32% of car crashes involved at least one motorist who tested positive for marijuana.
  • According to research, 9.7% of cannabis users admitted to driving while intoxicated at least once in the preceding year, or 8.1 times on average.
  • Over 50% of people seeking treatment for cannabis-related issues said they had at least once driven while "stoned" in the preceding year.

These drunk driving vs. high driving statistics also emphasize that the combined use of marijuana and alcohol amplifies the risk significantly.

Research indicates that the combination of these drugs prevents the body from properly compensating, leading to increased impairment even at dosages that are regarded as negligible when one drug is taken alone. The interaction between alcohol and cannabis, which can have additive or even multiplicative effects, highlights the need for customized preventative measures and increased public knowledge to address the particular problems that each substance poses for road safety.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Help in California

In the face of the complex challenges posed by alcohol and drug addiction, seeking the right support and resources becomes paramount for individuals on the path to recovery. Facilities like our California rehabs play a crucial role in providing comprehensive and compassionate assistance. With a commitment to addressing both alcohol and drug addiction, Banyan Palm Springs offers a range of addiction treatment programs tailored to the individual needs of our patients. Through a holistic approach that encompasses medical detoxification, therapy, and ongoing support, individuals struggling with addiction can find a lifeline toward recovery.

Call Banyan’s Southern California rehab at 888-280-4763 to learn about the first steps on the path to recovery from drugs and alcohol.


  1. NIH – The Effect of Cannabis Compared With Alcohol on Driving
  2. NHTSA – Drunk Driving
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Drunk Driving vs. High Driving Statistics
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