Study Links Legalized Pot With Increase In Car Crash Claims

Colorado’s collision-claim frequency was 14 percent higher than that in nearby states after the state unveiled the nation’s first legal recreational marijuana market in January 2014.Though there’s evidence from simulator and on-road studies that marijuana can degrade some aspects of driving performance, researchers haven’t been able to definitively connect marijuana use with more frequent real-world crashes. Colorado had the greatest difference with 13.9 percent more collisions than Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming.”More drivers admit to using marijuana, and it is showing up more frequently among people involved in crashes”, the study said.Mason Tvert, a marijuana legalization advocate and communications director with the Marijuana Policy Project, questioned the study’s comparison of claims in rural states such as Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana with Colorado, Oregon and Washington that have dense population centers and how that affected the study’s findings. “The combined analysis uses a bigger control group and is a good representation of the effect of marijuana legalization overall”.New Mexico has legalized pot for medical uses, but attempts to legalize marijuana in the state in recent years have failed.The combined effect for the three states was a small but significant three per cent, according to the HLDI Vice President Matt Moore.Washington, then was second highest with a six per cent increase, and OR came last with just a four per cent increase. The research focused on data in three of the first states to legalize recreational pot – Colorado, Washington and Oregon.The HLDI is affiliated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit organization funded by auto insurance companies which have a vested interest in not having to play claims and a bias against any sort of impaired driving. An additional 17 states permit limited access for medical use. “Worries that legalized marijuana is increasing crash rates aren’t misplaced”, said David Zuby, chief research officer of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.However, a separate review of traffic fatality data kept by the Federal Highway Administration showed that fatal wrecks occurred in Washington and Colorado at about the same rate both prior to and following implementation of legal marijuana.