The effect of marijuana legalization on auto accident rates has been a concern for many in states like Colorado, where recreational use is permitted. Marijuana has been found to impair drivers similar to the impairment caused by alcohol. Many worried that the rates of auto accidents would rise as drivers under the influence took to the roads. Several years after the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, studies are beginning to examine the effects of legalization on car accident rates.
In a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the insurance claims for collisions filed between January 2012 and October 2016 were examined. The three states that legalized marijuana were compared to neighboring states. For the period covered by the study, it was found that the claims were made 3% more frequently in states that had legalized marijuana than in those that hadn’t. These numbers, while, small are significant. The IIHS reports that states with legalized marijuana use experienced more accidents than states that hadn’t.
A second study, published by the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), found a different result. This study examined federal fatal accident data gathered between 2009 and 2015. In their study, AJPH discovered that there was no significant association between marijuana legalization and changes in fatal car accident rates.
So why the difference? Each study examined crash data from reliable sources, however, the studies were looking at different information to come to their conclusion. The study by the IIHS was examining the data from all types of collisions, while the AJPH was using only data regarding fatal accidents. Combining the results of both studies, we can see that the number of fatal accidents did not change significantly, even though the number of overall accidents went up slightly.
For drivers in states where marijuana is legal for use, this may be cause for concern. If the risk of auto accidents is increased in your state, you may be involved in an accident with a drugged driver. If you are injured in such an accident, a qualified car accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.
At Jordan, Herington & Rowley, our team of dedicated lawyers are well-versed in the intricacies of accidents involving marijuana users. Our Denver car accident attorneys are passionate about protecting the rights of our clients and fighting for their needs. We have recovered millions of dollars for injured clients, and we can help you with your claim. Contact our firm today to begin with a free consultation.