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Two newly released studies shared almost conflicting information in regards to marijuana use while driving. The Highway Loss Data Institute published a report linking marijuana legalization to higher percentages of accidents overall. The American Journal of Public Health, meanwhile, published a report stating that marijuana legalization did not lead to more fatalities in car accidents. Following the second report, marijuana advocates have been using that data to promote that because marijuana use is not causing more fatalities in accidents, it must be okay. Aren’t more general accidents something to be worried about, though?
In a recent survey of drivers in Washington post marijuana-legalization, 44% of drivers reported that in the past year they had driven within two hours of consuming marijuana. Marijuana is also shown to reduce reaction time, impair psychmotor skills, reduce time and distance perception, and reduce lane perception, amongst other effects. With effects like these, it’s only a matter of time before mortality percentages in accidents are on the rise in legal marijuana states.
Across the country, in 2015 only 57% of drivers in fatal car accidents were tested for drugs. Of that, 40% tested positive for drugs, with almost 36% of drivers testing positive for marijuana. What if fatalities due to marijuana aren’t showing up in higher percentages in states with legal marijuana simply because they’re happening in higher rates across the country? With marijuana legislation gaining momentum and getting more publicity, more adults adults than ever before are trying marijuana. Could this be the contributing factor to these conflicting reports?
The statistics don’t lie. With only a few short years of legalization already in place, and not even legal across the country, drug related DUI fatalities are already almost equal to alcohol related DUI fatalities. What will it take for society to wake up to the issue and start putting provisions in place to protect our society?