Study links legalized pot with increase in car crash claims

Study finds possible link between legalized recreational pot use and risk of car crashes

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDA), a part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, conducted a study to find out if there is any connection between legal recreational marijuana and more vehicle crashes.

The agency looked at collision claims in Washington, Oregon and Colorado before and after respective legalization took place, comparing claim frequency with five neighboring states: Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The result of this research shows a higher incidence of collision claims following legalization.

The study compared the rate of fatal auto crashes in Colorado and Washington before and following legalization in 2012.

M - Marijuana enthusiasts might fancy the grass a bit greener in states with legalized recreational use, a list that now includes eight states plus the District of Columbia.

Josh Lewis, a trooper who serves with the Colorado State Patrol, says data from their agency is just not there to prove that marijuana is causing all these collisions. Marijuana does not lend itself to something as simple as a blood alcohol test, Griffin said, which means law enforcement will need even more training to be able to enforce impaired driving laws against drivers under the influence of pot. The study also didn't record the fatality rates in states where marijuana is legal.

The researchers knew it'd be tough to confirm a link between pot and vehicle crashes, so they made a decision to focus on the three states in the study - and compare the numbers of auto accidents claims before and after legalization.

According to the group's statistics, crash rates have spiked in Colorado, Washington and OR by 16 percent, 6.2 percent, and 4.5 percent, respectively.

"Colorado has had legal pot sales the longest and it is showing the greatest effect", Moore said.

"The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes", says Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI. But when it comes to driving safety, a new study poses doobie-ous ramifications.

"Our study focused on deaths and actually found what we expected going into this", Jason Adedoyte, a trauma surgeon and lead author of the study, told Reuters.

"The increased availability of marijuana may be reducing alcohol use in some states", said Santaella-Tenorio. Marijuana still is an illegal controlled substance under federal law. "The HLDI's findings on the early experience in Colorado, Oregon and Washington should give other states eyeing legalization pause".

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