A new study by The Highway Loss Data Institute, a leading insurance research group, reveals a correlation between increased car crashes and recreational marijuana usage.
They report that “collision claims in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon went up 2.7 percent in the years since legal recreational marijuana sales began when compared with surrounding states,” shares The Christian Science Monitor. They believe that increase is directly related to the legalization of marijuana.
The study controlled for number of vehicles on the road, the age of drivers, the gender of drivers, weather, and employment status of the driver. They also used neighboring states with similar fluctuations in claims as a comparison.
Marijuana usage isn’t the only factor in increased collision rates in the U.S. Others include distracted driving, such as texting or cellphone use; road construction; and even lower gas prices leading to longer drives.
Alcohol, of course, remains the biggest factor in accidents, but that doesn’t mean marijuana isn’t an issue.
"While we have proven countermeasures, proven strategies for reducing alcohol-impaired driving, there are a lot of unanswered questions about marijuana and driving," says Mr. Rader spokesman for Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Promoters of recreational marijuana often say that it should be legal because it is less dangerous than alcohol, but this study begs the question: is that true? As an increasing number of states legalize marijuana, people will have to be educated about the effects of this chemical depressant.