07 Apr Does Marijuana Use Contribute to Increased Highway Deaths?
One of the arguments against the legalization of marijuana is that it would lead to increased deaths on the highway. From a logical standpoint, that makes sense. Much like alcohol, marijuana lowers a person’s reaction time and makes them drowsy, two things that are very bad when they happen to someone behind the wheel. It would make sense that an increased acceptance and even legalization of marijuana in certain states could lead to more dangerous highways, but is that really the case? Some say that it is, but there are conflicting reports on that subject.
On one hand, research released by AAA in 2016 stated that the percentage of drivers who had recently used marijuana and were involved in fatal crashes more than doubled between 2013 and 2014 in the state of Washington. Those statistics are alarming to be sure, but Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012. It stands to reason that more people would be using marijuana in that state between 2013 and 2014, yet it’s difficult to determine if marijuana use was really a factor in these fatal crashes based on these statistics. Other reports say that the number of fatal traffic accidents actually fell in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. These reports covered 1.2 million traffic fatalities nationwide between 1985 and 2014.
The question of whether or not marijuana use leads to an increase of traffic deaths is hard to say. There is little evidence that says how much marijuana use is too much when it comes to driving; we have yet to put a definite number on it like we can with blood-alcohol levels, and marijuana affects everyone differently. What might barely affect one person might completely impair someone else’s ability to function at all.
The one thing everyone should remember about marijuana use and driving is this: don’t do it. It does have an effect on one’s ability to drive safely, just like alcohol does. Just as you shouldn’t drive while drunk, you should never drive while high.