The data is in, and it’s not great news for marijuana enthusiasts. The first three states to legalize marijuana (Colorado, Washington and Oregon) have also noticed a measurable uptick in the number of vehicle accidents reported in their respective states. Marijunana seems to be the culprit, but no solution is in sight.
All told, the three states studied saw a combined increase of 5.2% of police-reported accidents when compared with neighboring states that still have the popular drug marked as illegal. The data was compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) between 2012 and 2016. That means these numbers could have continued to increase over the last few years.
It’s also worth noting that according to the Highway Loss Data Institute (HSDI), auto-insurance claims are up in states with legalized marijuana, as well. Colorado, Washington and Oregon have seen a claims increase of 6%.
The main issue stymying those hoping to solve the problem is the fact that there is no reliable way to determine if someone is driving under the influence of marijuana. Alcohol is still the most lethal problem facing American drivers, but can be reliably tested for on the scene using a breathalyzer. No such product exists for marijuana use, yet.
Helen Witty, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, gave a statement to the Insurance Journal about these recent findings. “Drunk driving is still the No. 1 killer on our roads, but drugged driving, as it’s legalized across this country, is a huge, emerging issue.”
The reality is that marijuna use is becoming more rampant across the country. As a result, the drug is quickly becoming legalized in an increasing number of states. Depending on the results of the upcoming presidential election in the United States that legalization could have federal backing in the near future. That means that science needs to keep up with consumer demand so that law enforcement can better protect drivers from their impaired counterparts.
For now, it’s important that everyone avoids driving under the influence of any mind-altering drugs, regardless of their legal status. Driving is a dangerous activity, and it’s the responsibility of every driver on the road to not make it any more dangerous through their actions.
All that being said, accidents do happen. That’s why it’s so important to have a proper car insurance policy in place. To learn more about your current policy, or to find inquire about a new one, reach out to TGS Insurance at www.tgsinsurance.com.