Published: Sat, October 20, 2018

New studies show increase in auto crashes in states allowing recreational marijuana

New studies show increase in auto crashes in states allowing recreational marijuana

Compared to some neighboring states that have not legalized marijuana for recreational use.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced the finding in two new studies that were set to be released on October 18.

Though a 2017 study found that the legalization of recreational weed has not increased the number of accidents involving fatalities, states that have legalized recreational use are seeing more auto crashes overall, according to the report, which includes two studies presented at the Combating Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving summit at the insurance institute's Vehicle Research Center.

"You shouldn't be behind the wheel regardless of what the substance is", Harkey said.

The first study found that crashes are up as much as 6 percent in Colorado, Washington and OR, compared with neighboring states that haven't legalized recreational use of weed. And 30 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, with Oklahoma being the latest to join.

"With marijuana impairment, we're just now starting to understand what we don't know".

In a separate study, IIHS compared crashes reported to police before and after retail sales began in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

According to other studies reviewed by the administration, marijuana is the second most frequently detected drug in crash-involved drivers behind alcohol.


"We do not want to see marijuana reach the same level of destruction on our roadways as we have seen with alcohol", said Harkey.

Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and the District of Columbia also allow recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 or older.

The studies used raw accident data that did not specify that marijuana involvement, due to inconsistent reporting on this factor.

Witnesses told authorities the driver had been driving erratically for more than 15 minutes before the crash.

Additionally, when drivers are tested, other drugs are often found in combination with alcohol, making it hard to parse out the effects.

"The pick-up truck driver in this crash made awful choices with tragic consequences", said board Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

There are no national standards or standardized tests for weed-impaired drivers like there are for alcohol.

While the two findings are similar, the IIHS noted the states have varying laws on marijuana and "these differences can influence how often consumers buy marijuana, where they buy it and where they consume it".

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