New Studies Cause Concern about the Relationship Between Legalizing Marijuana and Vehicle Accidents

New Studies Cause Concern about the Relationship Between Legalizing Marijuana and Vehicle AccidentsThe Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) prepared a new guide reviewing recent studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS-HLDI) and other organizations on the effect of legalizing marijuana on car and truck accidents. The GHSA pursued the guide because nine states have already legalized some form of medical marijuana use (like North Dakota has), and 20 states are considering legalizing it.

While different states are debating what kinds of laws they want to pass regarding marijuana use, no state has legalized driving while under the influence of marijuana. Just like driving while intoxicated is a danger to the public, driving while under the influence of marijuana can cause fatalities and injuries.

What the guide reviewed

The GHSA study was prepared by Dr. Jim Hedlund, a former director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It reviewed studies which analyzed the following factors:

  • Use of weed by drivers
  • Fatal crashes involving drivers where marijuana was present
  • Crashes involving the presence of marijuana and the arrest of drivers
  • How marijuana affected crash rates
  • How the public perceives marijuana use and driving

The results of some of the marijuana and car crash studies

The goal was to measure the impact marijuana has had on traffic safety. The GHSA found that fatal crashes have increased in Washington and Carolina since they legalized marijuana use. The GHSA also revealed that the presence of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) a key ingredient in marijuana among drivers in Washington was on the rise. The presence of THC also increased in “arrested and crash-involved drivers.”

The first IIHS-HLDI study, as reported by CNN, found that in three states that have legalized weed (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) that the accident rates have increased in those states by six percent comparted to states that have not legalized marijuana use. The Institute also found that factors such as weather, age, and job status did not affect the accident rate. A second IIHS-HLDI study found that the accident rate in those three states increased by 5.2% compared to data from the time before the legalization of marijuana laws were passed.

However, the studies also showed that overall crash numbers – for accidents where no marijuana was involved – rose in these states during the same time period, and that fatal crash numbers rose in eight control states, as well. As such, the GHSA was unable to say that legalizing marijuana use is definitively linked to increased numbers of car crashes.

The North Dakota car accident lawyers of Larson Law Firm P.C. represent injury victims. We work with the police and investigators, when necessary, to show why an accident occurred and who’s responsible. Our team understands how devastating vehicle accidents can be. For experienced help, please call our Minot office at 701-484-4878  or use our contact form to schedule a free appointment.