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Driving High

driving high

I drive better when I’m high, baked, tweaking, wasted, charging, blazing, tripping, stoned… Would you like facts with that?

People take drugs for lots of reasons, but mostly because they want to change their reality for a while. Drugs can make you feel really confident, or really relaxed, or really sure nothing can go wrong.

But things can go very wrong for people who drive after taking drugs. Feeling ‘unreal’ may be fine when you’re partying, or listening to music, or just chilling with your mates. But when you’re behind the wheel of a car, we need you in the real world.

Think you’re responsible when you’re using drugs? Then you’ll know, you can tell yourself some dangerous porkies when you’re high. The trick is not to believe them.

Here are some common myths about drug use and driving. Many people believe these myths, especially when they’re a little bit buzzed, but there’s a lot of reliable research that says reality is very different.


  1. Drug driving isn't a problem in New Zealand, surely?

    With such a big focus on drink driving over the past couple of decades, drug driving has been somewhat under the radar.  And some people don’t think it’s a problem at all.

  2. But I drive better when I'm stoned, I'm slower, and that's safer

    We often hear the argument that cannabis makes you a more cautious driver, and that a reduction in speed is all that is required to compensate for cannabis impairment. The truth is your reaction time has slowed down even more than your driving speed, and your attempts to compensate for your impairment won’t be enough to keep you safe. Car crashes happen very suddenly and unexpectedly. A slowed reaction time means you are much less likely to see a crash coming in time to avoid it.

  3. Don't stimulants improve my driving?

    Party drugs may make you think you’re a better driver, but they may not be telling you the truth. Feeling loose, spontaneous and overly-confident may be just what you want out on the dance floor – but the last thing anybody wants when you’re in charge of two tons of rolling steel.

  4. I’m on minor prescription tranquillisers. Could they impair my driving?

    It seems prescription tranquilisers may also be a road safety issue, especially when they are abused or combined with alcohol.

  5. My pill's effects have worn off so I'll be fine to drive now

    Actually, while you’re coming down is one of the worst times to think about driving. If you’ve been partying all night on stimulants then your body is going to crash. Evidence says drivers are far more likely to cause accidents when fatigued.

  6. If I only have a couple of beers and a couple of tokes, I'll be sweet to drive

    Even small amounts of cannabis combined with small amounts of alcohol can get you pretty wasted. Alcohol and cannabis have a cumulative effect on each other. If you combine the two, you might be under the legal driving limit for alcohol but your ability to drive (and your likelihood of a crash) will be more like someone who is way over[1].

  7. New Zealand's Drug Driving Laws

    The Land Transport Amendment Act 2009 (LTAA) allows Police to better detect drug drivers and charge them with the offence of ‘driving while impaired and with blood that contains evidence of use of a controlled drug or prescription medicine’.

  8. Drug Driving Research

    There is a large and growing body of research about the effects of drug driving. We talk about some of this in these pages and we have referenced a lot more on our Driving High Facebook page. Links to all the research we have discussed on the Facebook page are available in the PDF below.

    Driving High Facebook research posts Jan 2013 February 2014.pdf