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Can Marijuana Help You Drive?

While no responsible person would ever advocate the use of drugs for drivers, tests using a recently developed video game called Burnout have thrown up some surprise statistics. The testers found that a moderate amount of cannabis actually improved driving performance among those they studied. Results from another recent study apparently also show that people drive both faster and safer while under the influence of the drug.

A group of 20 drivers aged 21-40 were recruited for the Burnout study, all of whom had not previously owned a video games machine or described themselves of players of video games.

Ten of them smoked approximately 0.15 milligrams of cannabis, equivalent to about half a “joint”.

The other half declared that they had not had any stimulant for at least 72 hours before the test.

They were then given a thorough demonstration of Burnout and were subsequently asked to take the controls and play the video game themselves.

Participants’ skills at different elements of the game—reaction times, speed, concentration levels and road safety—were thoroughly analysed and evaluated.

The results showed that for those who had smoked 0.15 mgs of cannabis:

  • 80 per cent demonstrated superior reaction times
  • 60 per cent finished a lap faster
  • 70 per cent experienced a lower number of collisions
  • 60 per cent reached a higher level in the game.

The cannabis takers were then pitched against the non-cannabis takers in a head-to-head challenge on Burnout.

In this competitive setting, the cannabis users came out on top in eight out of ten of the match-ups.

The drivers under the influence of cannabis appeared to have more confidence in their ability and be much calmer. Burnout is aid to be “a fast-paced and adrenalin-stoked” game and the cannabis could have helped keep them in control of their nerves..

For the second stage of the experiment, the group who had already smoked cannabis smoked some more, increasing their total intake to about 0.58 milligrams, equatting to approximately two “joints”. The driver performance on Burnout then showed a significant decrease. With a total of 0.58 milligrams of cannabis in their system:

  • 60 per cent demonstrated superior reaction times
  • 30 per cent finished the game faster
  • 40 per cent experienced a lower number of collisions
  • 20 per cent reached a higher level in the game.

In the second part of the challenges, the cannabis smokers won only three races against their non-cannabis counterparts, an indicator of worsening driving performance.

Simon smith Wright, Burnout’s Communications Director, said: “The results of our test clearly show indicate that a small or moderate amount of cannabis is actually quite beneficial to someone’s driving performance.

“Further amounts then tend to start to impinge on performance, although interestingly reactions times appear to best withstand the increased amount of the drug in the system.

“Obviously Burnout is a video game and whilst extremely realistic, we cannot claim that these findings translate to real life driving, nor are we encouraging anyone to try out the theory.”

The RAC’s position is that, in every circumstance, the drug is detrimental to anyone at the wheel.

Posted by A. Shapiro
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