Is Stoned Driving an Alternative to Drunk Driving?

Recent Deaths Poke Holes in Theory that Stoned Drivers are Slower

Wouldn’t you rather have your teenage son driving stoned? Isn’t it better than drunk-driving?  Now, seriously, please think about it.  This argument is one that the pro-marijuana activists have posed, and they’re serious.  Teen boys will be reckless and thoughtless, after all. They’re out for a good time and weren’t you at that age?

The stoners tell us that they’re extra careful and slow when they drive stoned.  Drunk drivers drive too fast, they say.  After all, they have been practicing it for years, making them “better” drivers when they’re stoned because they have to be more attentive.

Joseph Beer’s car split in two and hit a tree as friends Darian Ramnarine, 18, Peter Kanhai, 18, Chris Kahn, 18, and Neal Rajapa, 17, were killed, on the Southern State Parkway in October, 2012. Photo: CBS New York.   Photo on top is from a crash in Seabeck, Washington, that killed 3 teens. Photo: Komo News

Our stories illustrate that parents must insist your children not ride in the car with someone who has been smoking pot It is as bad as drunk driving.  When pro-pot advocates write these messages claiming to be good drivers while stoned on the Internet, they’re encouraging our children to think they will be invincible, too.

In June, Shane Ormiston, 18, and Gabriel Anderson, 15, were going to PE class at Windward High School in Washington when they were struck and killed by a stoned driver; two more students were injured.  On November 3, 16-year old Chad Britton was hit and killed by a stoned driver at Broomfield High School in Colorado.

Driving with friends when they’re stoned

Many teens have heard the message “stoned is safer than drunk,” and it may be a reason that many of them have decided to get in cars with their classmates who have been smoking pot.

Joseph Beer killed four of his friends when he was stoned and speeding on a Long Island Parkway and his car split in two.  He was 17 at the time.  It was in October, 2012, when voters were deciding on marijuana legalization ballots in Colorado and Washington.   Beer had smoked $20 worth of marijuana and was going 100 miles per hour.  The stoners, thoughtful as they are, tell us it had nothing to do with the marijuana he smoked.  It was because he was going 100 miles per hour.  Beer was a daily marijuana user, and tried to use his dependence issue, called cannabis-use disorder in his defense. He will serve a 4-year term in prison.

Jenna, Kassidy, Luther
A crash in Seabeck, Washington killed 3 teens from Olympic High School. The students had gone in the car with a classmate who had smoked pot an hour earlier. Photo: Komo News

A 17-year old from Olympic High School in Bremerton, Washington drove 75 miles per hour, hit a tree, rolled and landed upside down in a ditch on January 11, 2015.  The accident killed 3 of his schoolmates: Jenna Farley, 14, Kassidy Clark, 16,  and Luther Stroudermire, 18.  The driver will be in juvenile detention for 45 to 108 weeks.  It was a rude awakening, but the biggest tragedy for the teens’ families.  He was going 75 in a 45-mile-per-hour zone.

In these cases involving multiple deaths, marijuana was the only drug the drivers had used. Amazingly, the drivers survived while all the passengers died.  Were they wearing seatbelts?  Each of these stoned drivers was speeding, too, a fact to contradict the theory that stoned drivers drive slowly.

In a recent death at the hands of a stoned driver on I-5 in Washington, the driver was said to have been traveling 120 miles per hour, while the victim was driving the speed limit.  Possibly these drivers are not aware of what they’re doing. Or it’s possible that they’re seeking the thrill of being stoned and speeding.

Wrong way crash killed an off-duty policeman on in New York, will be explained in Part 2

Kevin Ward Jr., a race car driver, died when he got out of his car in the middle of a race  at Canandaigua Motorsports park on August 9, 2014. Kevin Ward Jr. He had been sideswiped by Tony Stewart’s car during the previous round but scrambled out of his car to confront the driver going over 100 mph.  Toxicology reports revealed that Ward had THC in his system which may explain why he would be so irrational as to confront someone going that speed.  It also suggests that Ward may have found excitement in the combination of marijuana and speed.

It’s likely that marijuana played a role in the crash that killed 4 teen passengers in Minnesota on March 8, 2014.  The conditions were icy, but the 19-year-old driver, Kansas Adams, had marijuana in the car.  He survived while his friends, 17-year-old Payton Adams, 17-year-old Caleb Quesenberry , 18-year-old John Mangen  and 20-year-old Tyler Hadley died .

In short neither are safe, and CASA Columbia studies have shown that fatal accidents involving marijuana have tripled in recent years.

(Other blog articles about traffic deaths caused by stoned driving include pedestrians and cyclists and the 5 deaths in Vancouver, Washington.)  Follow our blog to read Part 2 of stoned driving, drunk driving.
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