Don't dismiss effect of marijuana on Colorado drivers

Posted June 26, 2017

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.

Insurance claims data show that Colorado, Washington and OR all experienced an increase in auto accident claims after retail marijuana sales became legal, according to research by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

The Highway Loss Data Institute has initiated a large-scale, case-control study in OR to further delve into how legalized marijuana might be affecting the risk of auto crashes with injuries, Moore said, adding that his organization will continue to research this topic.

Data published late last week revealed insurance claims have gone up almost three percent in Colorado, Washington, and OR since recreational cannabis became legal, per researchers with HLDI.

Now, the study didn't indicate that drivers under the influence of marijuana directly caused the increase. Drivers are now more open to admitting their ganja use because of the lack of stigma, and the study states that pot use is cropping up amongst people involved in crashes. The study, conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute looked at three states: Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Colorado had the greatest difference with 13.9 percent more collisions than Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming.

The numbers are a little hazy though, because there are other possible factors in an increase in crashes. Previous studies, even one from the federal government, have been unable to find anything conclusive. As of writing, eight states have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana.

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Less than a month ago a crash in Renton, Washington left a child severely injured and police suspect marijuana and alcohol were to blame.

"While we have proven countermeasures, proven strategies for reducing alcohol impaired driving, there are a lot of unanswered questions about marijuana and driving", said Rader, according to Chicago Tribune.

More drivers have admitted that they use marijuana, but past research on the impact of driving while high remain inconclusive, experts said.

"You really have to look at carefully the data and what they are talking about. Post-recreational marijuana legalization changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado also did not significantly differ from those for the control states".

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Marijuana is often used as a tool by police officers to search your vehicle.