Can Taking Cannabis Make You An Even Better Driver?

January 26, 2004

United Kingdom: 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

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.

Copyright: 2004 Archant Regional

Source: Evening News (UK)