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Studies: marijuana legalization results in higher vehicle crash rates

There are certain activities that we know increase the risk of causing a crash: distracted driving, speeding and driving drunk. Add one more to the list: being high on marijuana when you’re behind the wheel.

According to researchers, motor vehicle crash rates go up when states legalize recreational cannabis use.

Crash rates up in California

Auto wreck rates rose after marijuana legalization right here in California, as well as in Nevada, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, according to studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI).

“Our latest research makes it clear that legalizing marijuana for recreational use does increase overall crash rates,” said IIHS-HLDI President David Harkey.

Effects of marijuana on drivers

Road safety advocates say the evidence that weed use diminishes drivers’ ability to stay safe is found in driving simulator tests. Reactions of drivers high on cannabis are slower, plus it’s harder for them to keep their attention on the road and keep their vehicle in a lane than it is when they are sober.

According to IIHS researchers, the impact of legalization and retail sales of marijuana in the five states resulted in a 4 percent increase in fatal crash rates and a 6 percent increase in injury crash rates compared to neighboring states where recreational weed use remained illegal.

HLDI’s analysis of insurance claims paid for damage to the vehicles of at-fault drivers showed a 4 percent increase in the number of collision claims.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident by an impaired, speeding, distracted or otherwise negligent driver, contact an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation.

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