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Study shows link between recreational marijuana and car accidents

On behalf of Dolan + Zimmerman LLP January 8, 2019

Colorado drivers may now have more reasons to be concerned while on the roads. A recent study shows that the legalization of recreational marijuana may be contributing to a rise in car crashes in the state. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute both conducted studies in states that legalized recreational marijuana, including Colorado. Here is what they found:

Study results

The groups conducted their studies based on data from January 2012 through October 2017. Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012. Data collected in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington showed a 6 percent increase of crashes between the 2012 and 2017. These statistics were compared between control states that do not have legal marijuana laws.

According to the study, the link between marijuana use and car accidents is not as strong as the link between alcohol use and car crashes. However, this could be due to a lack in drug testing policies and inconsistent information in crash reports.

What does this mean for Colorado drivers?

Though this data is not completely reliable, and does not factor in other potential variables, it does show a potential connection between legal marijuana and an increase in car accidents. This means Colorado drivers may want to take extra precautions when on the roads.

Driving while under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Colorado and across the country. However, it may be more difficult for law enforcement to determine whether or not a person is under the influence of marijuana than it is for alcohol.

Legalized marijuana laws may increase your chances of being involved in a car accident if other drivers on the road are impaired. Because of this, taking extra care and precautions around other drivers could help you avoid a car accident.

While you cannot control the actions of other drivers and it is impossible to predict how they will behave on the road, you can protect yourself by driving carefully.