The legalization of marijuana in the last decade has been one of the more controversial political topics in the nation. Since Colorado became the first state to make legalize recreational marijuana 6 years ago, several states have joined them in allowing residents to legally purchase weed. Numerous state governments continue debating on whether their citizens deserve access to the drug and consider both the economic and safety aspects of doing so.
However, if there is one rule that any state can agree upon in the matter, it's that marijuana users should not go behind the wheel after getting high. Similar to prescription drugs, just because smoking weed is legal does not mean it is OK to drive right after using it. Recent studies demonstrate that states that legalize recreational marijuana usage have seen an increase in car accidents since passing their laws. Colorado residents should take these statistics as a warning to avoid putting themselves and others on the road in danger.
The drivers and body count get higher
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) recently published their research on the crash rates of states with legal recreational marijuana usage. The HLDI compared Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington to neighboring states that have not legalized marijuana yet and found that the combined crash rate was up by nearly 6 percent since the drug was legalized.
The study from the IIHS focuses more on how much police-reported crash rates increased following the legalization. They found that there was a combined 5.2 percent increase between Colorado, Oregon and Washington. The analysts from both organizations conclude that legalized weed is "having a negative impact on the safety of our roads."
However, they admit that the statistics are not completely sound. It is more difficult for police to identify drugs in one's system than alcohol and how much those drugs had an effect on their driving behavior. Whether this means that there were less or more people who caused an accident while high than in their study, they still stand by their conclusion over the dangers of smoking weed before or during your drive around the city.
Signs of a high driver
Unfortunately, it is too difficult to try and smell a high motorist while driving. Even if you catch a whiff of one, it would be very difficult for the court to believe your case. Instead, just pay attention for signs you would see if the driver was drunk, distracted or drowsy. Pot can affect a driver's reaction time, spatial sense, perception and judgement. If you see a driver with inconsistent braking patterns, terrible turning or random speed bursts, your best bet is to stay away from them.
If you or a loved one suffer from a car accident caused by a high driver, you should consult with a personal injury attorney to help you seek justice for the incident. Driving while impaired by recreational marijuana is illegal in all states and can result in fines and jail time for the guilty driver.