As many residents of San Marcos know, California law allows adults aged 21 and older to buy, possess, and consume marijuana as long as it is one ounce or less in a private residents or in an area in which marijuana consumption is legal. In addition, the law permits adults to grow marijuana plants in a small number (up to six of them), as long as they are growing the marijuana plants in a secure place where the public cannot view them. What does this have to do with car accident rates in San Marcos? According to an article in The Washington Post, two studies conducted earlier this year “came to seemingly opposite conclusions on whether marijuana use is causing an increase in car crashes in states that have legalized the drug.”
Since California is one of those states, it is important for residents to consider the potential link between marijuana use and motor vehicle crash rates. If you or someone you love got hurt in a traffic collision caused by a drugged driver, you should learn more about filing a claim for compensation.
Are Car Accident Insurance Claims Higher in States Where Marijuana is Legal?
As the article explains, the first study was conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In analyzing claims submitted for car accident damage and injuries between 2012 and 2016, researchers looked at claims from states in which marijuana is legal and compared that data to claims from states in which marijuana is not legal. What did they find? In brief, “over that time period, collisions claim frequencies in states that had legalized marijuana were about 3 percent higher than would have been anticipated without legalization.” In other words, the study intimated that there are indeed more car crashes in states where drivers have legal access to marijuana.
However, a subsequent study came to an opposite conclusion. Indeed, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health determined that there was “no increase in vehicle crash fatalities” in states where marijuana was legal at the time of the collisions in comparison to similar states without legalized marijuana. That study looked at deadly car collision data from 2009 to 2015.
While these two studies initially might seem to contradict one another, it is important to note that the first study assessed all crashes (fatal and nonfatal) while the second study only assessed fatal crashes. We might infer, then, that the rate of all car accidents may be higher in states with legalized marijuana, but there is no marked increase in fatal collisions.
Driving Impairment and Marijuana
Are Californians at greater risk of sustaining serious or fatal injuries in a motor vehicle crash following the changes to California’s marijuana laws? Not necessarily. An earlier report from 2015 in The Washington Post indicated that “stoned drivers are a lot safer than drunk ones.” And the data from the two studies appears to support that point.
To be clear, smoking marijuana may indeed increase the risk of a car crash, but it may not increase the risk of a deadly one. At the same time, smoking marijuana and getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle always puts the driver, as well as other Californians on the road, in danger.
Contact a San Marcos Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love got hurt in an accident caused by a drugged driver, you should speak with a San Marcos car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the Walton Law Firm for more information.
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(image courtesy of Steve Halama)