Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Health Care | By Jan Bell

Study links legalized pot with increase in vehicle crash claims

Study links legalized pot with increase in vehicle crash claims

That's what the Highway Loss Data Institute is investigating now that the number of collision claims has risen by between 4.5 and 16 percent in several states where weed has been made legal for recreational use.

Insurance date on collision claims showed Colorado had 14 percent more crashes compared to surrounding western states, Washington had a 6 percent increase and OR was 4.5 percent higher.

"We believe that the data is saying that crash risk has increased in these states and those crash risks are associated with the legalization of marijuana", Moore said, according to the International Business Times.

The legalization of marijuana in the United States is happening slowly, and with that, some are moving to stop this new trend in its tracks.

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The study revealed more drivers involved in crashes are admitting to using marijuana.

But with auto crashes in general, researchers at the Highway Data Loss Institute found something else. It would also consist of members from marijuana advocacy groups, state educators, and state health officials.

The data covered collision claims between January 2012 and October 2016 for vehicles between 1981 and 2017 model years, and controlled for population, urban-rural mix, unemployment and even weather.

A first-of-its-kind study released Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that collision claim frequency was "about 3 percent higher than would have been expected without legalization". "Using the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System, they determined the annual numbers of motor vehicle crash fatalities between 2009-2015 in Washington, Colorado and eight control states". Washington's estimated increase in claim frequency was 6 percent higher than in Montana and Idaho. In the coming years, more research from the institute and others will help sharpen the focus.

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No matter that a recent study suggests that legalized marijuana has not led to significant increases in risks to Colorado drivers, operating motor vehicles while high is a problem in this state that authorities must continue to address. It's easier when alcohol is in play because the breathalyzer device exists, but there's nothing of the sort for marijuana, at least, not yet.

Marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance under federal law.

Zuby added that the findings on cases in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado should provide other states "eyeing legalization pause".

Officials did not cite one specific cause for the increase in fatalities, noting contributing factors could include distracted and impaired driving, low seat belt use, and motorcyclists not wearing helmets or other protective gear.

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