Legal Marijuana & Car Accidents – Is There a Link?

By June 24, 2017News/Info

A new study released this week found that an increase in accident insurance claims has occurred in states with legalized marijuana.  According to the U.S. Highway Loss Data Institute, car collision rates in the states of Oregon, Washington & Colorado are about 3% higher than what would be expected if those states did not have legalized recreational marijuana.

marijuana collisions chart

While the study did not examine fatality rates nor does it directly state marijuana use is to blame for the increase, this could be a troubling sign. The study compared the collision claim rates before and after legalization with the collision claim rates of comparable states where pot is still illegal. For example, Colorado was compared to Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming. Even with this data, it is hard to say whether marijuana is to blame. For example, many drivers who test positive for THC also have alcohol in their system as well.

In addition, the prevalence of smart phones may also play a role. With the rise of smart phone uses, the number of accidents with a distracted driver has also increased.  Check out these distracted driver statistics:

  • Each year, over 330,000 accidents caused by texting while driving lead to severe injuries. This means that over 78% of all distracted drivers are distracted because they have been texting while driving.
  • 1 out of 4 car accidents in the US are caused by texting while driving.
  • Texting and driving is 6 times more likely to get you in an accident than drunk driving.

It’s safe to say the jury is out as to whether there is a link between car accidents and legal marijuana. But here’s the bottom line: if you use marijuana, you shouldn’t drive while under the influence. There are other ways to get around: take an Uber, taxi, get a ride, etc. And for everyone’s safety, don’t text and drive, especially if you are stoned or drunk.