New Study Examines Traffic Deaths and Their Relationship to Medical Marijuana Laws


January 29, 2017

Are accident rates lower in states that allow medical marijuana?

As more states continue to pass laws legalizing medical marijuana, it is important to examine the effects of such laws. One new study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, examined traffic fatalities from the years 1985 and 2014. The study found that traffic accident deaths were actually reduced by an average of 11 percent in states that had passed medical marijuana laws. In fact, medical marijuana laws were associated with a considerable decline in traffic deaths among younger drivers.

These results may be surprising to many who feared legalizing marijuana in any form could result in more car accident fatalities. One possible explanation for the lowered fatality rates could be that drivers in states with legalized marijuana are more likely to turn to marijuana than alcohol. It is also possible that those who are under the influence of marijuana are less likely to drive than those who are drunk.  Most Americans believe that marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol when it comes to driving.  However, studies have indicated that it is extremely dangerous to drive under the influence of many substances, including marijuana.

This new study, however, conflicts with findings from a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. That study found that the number of fatal car accidents involving individuals who were high had significantly increased as compared to the preceding ten-year period. Statistics in this study found that the number of drivers with marijuana in their systems has considerably increased.

Stay Sober to Stay Safe

Perhaps the bottom line to be taken from both of these studies is that staying sober is critically important to staying safe behind the wheel. Regardless as to whether marijuana or alcohol has more of an impairing effect, both are exactly that—drugs that impair perception. Drugs and alcohol have the power to alter your reaction times, depth perception, reduce concentration, impair vision, and cause you to feel more relaxed and drowsy.

Driving, though it often seems routine, is actually a complex behavior requiring your full attention and physical engagement with the wheel and pedals. Drivers who drink or use marijuana are at an increased risk of accidents. While marijuana may be associated with fewer accidents than drinking, any heightened accident risk is significant and should be avoided.

If you have been injured in a car accident and suspect the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, contact our car accident lawyers at Montlick & Associates as soon as possible. Our attorneys will examine the facts and circumstances of what happened to you and advise you on your rights and options.

Contact Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation

At Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, our firm has more than thirty-two years of experience representing the rights and interests of clients injured in a variety of accidents from all across Georgia. By speaking with one of our Georgia Personal Injury Attorneys, you will have a better understanding of your situation and whether or not there are legal options available to you.

To schedule your free consultation to speak with one of our attorneys, contact Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law today by calling (800) LAW-NEED (529-6333). You may also visit us online at www.montlick.com to complete a Free Case Evaluation Form, and you may also participate in a 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Source: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303577

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Category: Personal Injury

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