Is Marijuana Linked to Car Accidents?

Kaden Stewart, Staff Writer

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There have been rising concerns about Colorado drivers, marijuana legalization, and the increase of marijuana involved in fatal car accidents.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “More drivers admit to using marijuana, and it is showing up more frequently among people involved in crashes. Though there is evidence from simulator and on-road studies that marijuana can degrade some aspects of driving performance, researchers haven’t been able to definitively connect marijuana use with more frequent real-world crashes.” (HLDI, June 22, 2017)

Car insurance companies have expressed concerns of more marijuana involved in car accidents. “The significant increase in fatal car crashes involving marijuana is alarming.” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for traffic safety. According to the AAA Foundation and a new Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) analysis, there has been a 3% increase in fatal car accidents. ”The combined-state analysis show the first three states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) to legalize marijuana have experienced more crashes.” said Matt Moore, Senior Vice President of HDLI.

There is no clear-cut way to test for an accurate time-frame of marijuana usage.  Field tests may give an idea if someone may have been recently using. These are similar tests to a DUI field sobriety test for alcohol consumption.  There isn’t an accurate device like the alcohol breathalyzing machine for marijuana. Although a blood test can be performed with marijuana like alcohol, ”marijuana is fat soluble so traces of its main ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can show up in blood long after a person has sobered up,’’ states Margaret Haney, a Professor of Neurobiology at Columbia University Medical Center, in an article published by National Public Radio (NPR), “Can Sobriety Tests Weed Out Drivers Who’ve Smoked Too Much Weed?” on January 25, 2017 and written by Tovia Smith.

There appears to be factual evidence that there is a clear increase in car accidents in States who legalized marijuana / THC.  There is only a connection between the fact that States that have legalized marijuana, have also had an increase in fatal car accidents.  An investigation of an accident can’t determine that marijuana is the cause of the accident until an accurate test for the influence of marijuana is created.

This is important to the students and families of Colorado, because prevention of car accidents is important to teen drivers and their families.  The community needs make Colorado aware to make the roads safe for everyone.

For more information:

“Claim Rates Go up Where Marijuana Is Legal.” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Datas Institute News, 22 June 2017, www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/legalizing-recreational-marijuana-is-linked-to-increased-crashes.

Smith, Tovia. “Can Sobriety Tests Weed Out Drivers Who’ve Smoked Too Much Weed?” NPR, NPR, 25 Jan. 2017, www.npr.org/2017/01/25/511595978/can-sobriety-tests-weed-out-drivers-whove-smoked-too-much-weed.

 

 

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