How does cannabis affect road safety?
Traffic experts discuss
The federal government plans to enable the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes during the current legislative period. This has sparked a discussion about the impact of cannabis consumption on road safety levels.
“The main question is how an increase in the current limit value of the cannabis active ingredient tetrahydrocannabiol (THC) from the current 1 nanogram per milliliter of blood serum to around 3 nanograms or more should be assessed with regard to road safety,” explains Thomas Wagner, Head of the department of officially recognized assessment centers for fitness to drive (BfF) at DEKRA .
However, the expert warns against misunderstandings about the current legal situation.
If a driver is currently the road consuming cannabis and is stopped, this currently leads to just as drastic penalties as for driving with an alcohol level of 0.5 per mille or more : there is a risk of the first offense 500 euros fine , two points on the traffic offenders' register and a one-month driving ban .
In contrast to alcohol abuse, those affected can expect a medical-psychological examination (MPU) the first time they commit a drug offense in traffic.
Cannabis is the most widely used drug in Europe, used daily or almost daily by around one percent of adults in the EU. Its active ingredient THC has a psychoactive effect on the entire nervous system and, according to studies, influences important skills for driving safety; These include concentration, memory, perception of time and space, movement control, responsiveness and attention. The driving uncertainties observed concern lane keeping, the regulation of driving speed as well as priority regulations and extended reaction times.
International studies speak of an increased risk caused by cannabis in road traffic, ranging from a slight to moderate risk of accidents. Even if not all key figures show a statistically significant increase in risk, Wagner fears that raising the limit value to 3 ng/ml will not be without negative consequences for road safety in this country too.
Text and image credit: Dekra