With more states allowing medical and recreational use of marijuana, we've been watching the accident statistics carefully when it comes to pot and driving. According to NORML, a marijuana legalizing advocacy group, "Evidence of marijuana's culpability in on-road driving accidents is much less convincing." They are convinced that pot doesn't cause seriously impaired driving and thus shouldn't be a factor in DUIs. Law enforcement claims to have seen otherwise and maintains that the evidence contradicts their statements.
Research Points to Increase in Fatalities
According to a study released January 30 from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health researchers, the number of fatalities associated with driving under the influence of marijuana tripled. This study was based on a ten-year study which looked at traffic fatalities across six states which performed routine toxicology tests on drivers who were involved in fatal accidents. Of the 23,591 who died, the numbers of those who had used drugs other than alcohol were at 16.6 percent in 1999 and rose to 28.3 percent in 2010. Marijuana was the most used drug other than alcohol and went from 4.2 percent usage by a driver involved in a fatal accident to 12.2 percent, or three times more in a ten year period. That's one in nine fatal crashes involved marijuana. Alcohol is still the number one killer drug at roughly 40 percent and the percentages have not varied much over the ten year period.
Is Marijuana Not a Safe Drug?
Although seventeen states have either legalized or decriminalized marijuana, the dangers of this drug perhaps may have been downplayed to the public. According to Bloomberg.com, less than 40 percent of seniors in high school think pot is dangerous. Most feel it is safer than cigarettes, even though a new study points to marijuana use causing abnormalities in the brain of younger, recreational users. It shows it can seriously impair memory, emotion control, and thought processes. Drivers need these abilities especially if they're making good decisions on the road.
Is Marijuana More Likely to Cause Accidents?
Although most people who use pot think of themselves as safe drivers, even while stoned, a 2012 Canadian study shows that marijuana users are twice as likely to cause an accident than someone who was sober, according to USAToday. Another 2007 study further showed that a full 15 percent of an accident sample in Scotland were caused by someone who took a toke within 12 hours of the accident. According to one of the researchers for Columbia University, if a person combines alcohol with marijuana, they're twenty four more times likely to cause a fatal accident than a sober person.
With more drivers likely to drive while impaired, it's likely we'll continue to see an upturn in accidents caused by marijuana users, especially if impairment lasts up to 12 hours. In fact, according to one of the researchers, if the trend continues, we may be seeing more DUIs due to pot than alcohol. More work for personal injury lawyers who are frequently overworked already.
If you have sustained injuries in any kind of an accident in Pennsylvania, best bet is to retain a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer to investigate.