With the use of medical marijuana becoming more prevalent in the United States, many consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the effects of legalization. Marijuana usage was recently decriminalized in Philadelphia and a major concern is how legalization will impact safe driving. Distracted driving is already causing consternation as cell phone usage has become rampant on the road. Many people are worried that drugged driving will become more common as marijuana has become more accessible.
Two recent studies were performed to see if marijuana legalization had a significant impact on the increase of car crashes and fatalities. The first study, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), reviewed claims for motor vehicle collision frequency. To obtain this data, researchers took the number of car accident claims filed and divided it by the number of years a vehicle has been insured.
Claims were reviewed from Colorado, Washington, and Oregon where marijuana was first legalized. The claims were analyzed over a period of four years, from January 2012-October 2016. The claims were then compared with those of neighboring states who did not legalize the drug. The results found that collision claim frequencies in states with legalized marijuana were about 3% higher than states where it is still prohibited. Although the data showed that crash frequency has slightly increased in states with recreational marijuana, it did not indicate whether the number of fatalities also increased or not.
The second study, conducted by The American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), focused specifically on the number of fatal crashes occurring, and whether marijuana usage was tied to the fatalities. The findings showed that there was no increase in crash fatalities in states such as Colorado and Washington where recreational marijuana usage was legalized. Data was reviewed over the six-year time-period between 2009-2015 for this study.
Proponents should not yet rejoice at this outcome, though. Although both studies used different base comparisons, the overall outcome between the two studies showed that while recreational marijuana usage did not increase the number of fatal car accidents, it did slightly increase the overall number of crashes.
The AJPH study focused on states with similar characteristics such as traffic patterns, population, and roadway composition. The IIHS study only compared legalization states to neighboring ones, without taking demographics or road conditions into consideration.
Nevertheless, federal research shows that medical marijuana usage is significantly less impairing than alcohol usage behind the wheel. Numerous reports have shown that small doses of alcohol greatly increases the likelihood of crashing.
Delaware County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC are Top Proponents for Car Accident Victims
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