Legalization of Marijuana Linked to Increased Number of Crashes

The drug has been suspected of worsening certain aspects of driving performance

Legalization of Marijuana Linked to Increased Number of Crashes
Image: Pixabay
June 30, 2017

A new analysis from the Highway Loss Data Institute has found that legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in certain states has led to more collision claims than would have been expected otherwise.

Marijuana and Drivers

The frequency of collision claims in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington has risen by roughly three percent since 2014, the analysis shows.

More drivers are admitting to using the drug, and it is appearing more often in people involved in accidents. Until now, researchers have not been able to establish a definitive link between marijuana use and more frequent vehicle crashes, though simulator and on-road studies have provided evidence that the drug worsens certain aspects of driving performance. Some prior studies found that marijuana use may more than double the risk of a crash, while others did not find a link.

The first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use were Colorado and Washington, followed by Oregon. At this time, five other states have legalized marijuana for all uses, as well as Washington, D.C. Seventeen more states allow consumers limited access to the drug for medical purposes.

Under federal law, marijuana is still classified as an illegal controlled substance.

Collision Claims

Insurance companies get more collision claims than any other kind of claim. This type of coverage insures against physical damage done to a driver's vehicle in an accident, either by an object or another vehicle.