Costa Mesa, CA - As more states relax laws surrounding the use and sale of recreational marijuana, those same states are seeing a statistically significant increase in the number of impaired driving crashes that result in injury.
A new study carried out by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) showed an alarming spike in the number of impaired driving crashes in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, and California.
The study’s results contradict 2015 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which found that driving under the influence of marijuana did not significantly affect drivers’ performance.
David Karkey, the IIHS-HLDI president said, “our latest research makes it clear that legalizing marijuana for recreational use does increase the overall crash rates.” The new data is important because of the rapidly expanding recreational marijuana market with more than a third of all states legalizing it thus far.
In the five states that were a part of the study, there was a 6 percent increase in the number of people that had been injured as a result of driving while impaired by marijuana. Fatal crashes also rose by 4 percent. These findings are consistent with a previous IIHS study in 2018 which showed that after legalization, Washington, Oregon and Colorado saw a rise of 5 percent in their crash rates.
What is understood about how cannabis affects driving is twofold; on the one hand a person will drive slower and will be less likely to drive aggressively. But on the other hand, their reaction speeds are slower, they get distracted more easily, and they make more errors in their driving.
Resurgence Behavioral Health - a leading addiction treatment center in California- has ample experience in helping people with substance use disorder, which can set in even with cannabis. According to Resurgence, willingly going into risky situations is one of the characteristics of addiction. Driving while under the influence of marijuana can have fatal consequences, as the recent studies suggest.
For some people, the use of marijuana cannot be controlled, and driving while impaired is just one example of how a person can place themselves in harm’s way even when they know a behavior might be dangerous.
Substance use disorder involving cannabis is likely to increase with its legalization in more and more states. Front-line organizations fighting addiction encourage people to seek help for substance abuse especially if some of the more dangerous symptoms of addiction appear, such as continuing to use marijuana even when it puts a person’s health and wellbeing at risk.
SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]
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