States legalizing recreational marijuana use may be first considering the positive impact of decriminalizing a drug that has led to arrests and jailtime. They may not be considering an unintended consequence; an increase in car accidents. In a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute, researchers looked at the number of car accidents in states that recently legalized recreational marijuana use. They studied the number of accidents in years preceding and proceeding legalization to get a full picture of whether there was an increase. As a control group, researchers used the same data from neighboring states to compare the results.
Researchers found that in the three states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, Colorado and Washington in 2014, and Oregon in 2015, that there was just over a five percent increase in the rate of police-reported crashes. Later in the study, they also looked at data from Nevada, which legalized marijuana in 2017, and found that it had a six percent increase in car accidents, compared to the years prior starting in 2012.
Other states currently considering the legalization of recreational marijuana include New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. All these states, including New Jersey, currently have a medical marijuana program, so making the leap toward legalization is the next logical step for advocates.
Testing for Marijuana in the Body
With this data, it is worrisome that if states in our region legalize recreational marijuana, there could be an uptick in the number of car accidents. This increase in car accidents could also be related to the fact that there is no accurate test for marijuana use while driving. Although police can test drivers for marijuana when they believe the person is under the influence of the substance, the test is not able to accurately show when the driver ingested marijuana, since the substance can stay in the body for days or weeks after use. Therefore, it is not a good indicator if the driver was impaired at the time of an accident or infraction.
Does Marijuana Impair Driving?
While the National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that marijuana significantly impairs judgement, reaction time, and motor coordination, many motorists are aware that there is no objective and accurate measure to determine whether the drug is impacting their ability to drive. This can cause an increase in accidents, especially in a densely populated state such as New Jersey, where it could be particularly fatal.
Cherry Hill Car Accident Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help Those Injured in Car Accidents Due to Impaired Driving
If you or someone you know has been hurt in an auto accident, regardless of whether the accident involved a substance, the Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law can help. Our offices are in Center City Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where we serve southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, including the areas of Cherry Hill, Mt. Holly, and Camden County. Call us today at 856-414-0010 or submit an online inquiry form for a free consultation.