With more states legalizing marijuana across the country, one of the biggest concerns is whether this will cause more accidents on our roadways. Drinking and driving is already a serious issue, surely toking and driving will be just as serious?
One recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute indeed found an increase in car accident claims in states that legalized recreational marijuana, when compared to surrounding states. To be specific, these states saw a 2.7 percent rise in collision claims, and the study claims that is due to more drivers smoking marijuana before driving.
Marijuana use vs. alcohol use
This data may seem alarming, but it pales in comparison to alcohol-related studies. Federal data shows that while marijuana-related accidents have near negligible effects, consuming even a small amount of alcohol could increase the risk of an accident by seven times.
In fact, other studies show that while collision claims increase due to marijuana legalization, fatalities do not. This could mean that marijuana legalization does not increase the overall risk of severe accidents – simply minor collisions.
Recreational vs. medical marijuana
This study was also done specifically in states where recreational marijuana was legalized. Is there a difference when legalizing medical marijuana?
Surprisingly, studies have found that traffic-related deaths decreased in states that legalize medical marijuana, dropping an astonishing 11 percent.
So what is the true effect of marijuana use on driving? While driving impaired can definitely cause an accident, many state laws equate drunk driving to stoned driving, when the former may be a much larger risk.
Regardless, all drivers should exercise safety while driving, making sure they protect their own safety as well as the safety of the other drivers around them.