Car Crashes Shown to Go Up in States That Legalize Marijuana

A study recently published by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) suggests that states that have legalized the possession of marijuana have been shown to have higher car crash risks than those that do not. At the same time, a study published on June 22, 2017, by the American Journal of Public Health suggests that actual traffic-related fatalities are fairly equal, whether states have legalized marijuana or not.

Researchers with HLDI reviewed traffic collision data from across eight different states, including Kentucky, from both pre- and post-legalization years.The study report cites that researchers have been unable to substantiate any correlation between driver safety and marijuana use. Despite this, they argue that the data shows a significant enough of a connection between the two factors that they should be given another look.

In other to justify their position, the researchers cited how Stanford’s Open Policing Project team members scoured some 60 million traffic stop reports from across 22 different states. Among Colorado and Washington, the first two states in the country to legalize marijuana in November of 2012, there seems to be a significant increase in motor vehicle crashes than before the drug was deregulated.

States that have only legalized marijuana in the past few years, like Oregon, have seen an increase in crashes by 4 percent in a short period of time. In contrast, Idaho, Nevada and Montana have seen very little change. In an attempt to explain this discrepancy, researchers point to how insurance companies have found that either road construction or distracted driving may be to blame for many of these crashes.

To date, the federal government has invested very little time and money in investigating the impact that drug legalization policies have had on auto crashes. They will undoubtedly do so, though, as more pressure is placed on them to make a decision as to whether to legalize the drug on a federal level.

Motorists can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if they are found to have alcohol or either illicit or prescription drugs in their system. Thousands of people are severely maimed or killed in DUI crashes each year. If you or a loved one is one of them, you may benefit from discussing your case with a Bowling Green, Kentucky, car crash attorney.

Source: The Daily Zipper, “Study ties legal pot to boost in car crash claims,” Kristine Clayton, June 26, 2017

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