Study: Marijuana usage increases risk of being involved in car accidents

A study conducted by researchers from Columbia University found that with marijuana usage, the risk of being involved in car accidents doubles for drivers.

In recent years, many states, California among them, have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Some states have even gone so far as to legalize the drug for recreational use as well. It seems that this has led to an increase in the number of people who drive while under the influence of marijuana. This can put not only these negligent drivers at risk themselves, but also their passengers, other motorists and innocent bystanders.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University, there has been a significant increase in the number of marijuana-related fatal auto accidents between 1999 and 2010.

Risk assessment study

In order to examine the link between marijuana use and car accidents, researchers from Columbia University conducted a meta-analysis of nine relevant epidemiologic studies. Drawing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System's data, statistics were examined for drivers from six states, including California.

The researchers' analysis examined the type of drug assessment used, as well as the age of the subjects that were studied. Additionally, they considered the time period during which the study was conducted, the location where the study was conducted and the study design itself. Through this analysis, researchers estimated the odds ratios relating the use of marijuana to the risk of being involved in auto collisions.

Results of the study

The study's findings showed a strong link between the use of marijuana by drivers and the risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents. In 1999, according to a report by Medical Daily, the study found that marijuana was viewed as contributing factors in four percent of collisions. In 2010, that number tripled, increasing to 12 percent. Furthermore, the study found evidence that the risk may be greater depending on the dose and frequency of usage.

The effects of marijuana on drivers

Marijuana has proven to have some positive effects on people suffering from certain medical conditions. Due to its effects, however, it can have a negative impact on drivers. According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, similar to alcohol, marijuana can have a range of effects, including the following:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Poor coordination or decreased motor skills
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Sensory distortion
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic

Using marijuana can also cause people to become drowsy or sleepy, according to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World. All of these potential effects can drastically impact people's ability to safely operate motor vehicles. This can result in drugged drivers being the liable parties in serious collisions.

Working with an attorney

The actions of motorists, including using marijuana before getting behind the wheel, can have life changing implications for other drivers, and their passengers. As a result of their choices, drugged drivers can cause collisions, which may injure, or kill, others. For people who have experienced situations such as this, it may be of benefit to consult with a legal professional. An attorney can explain their options, and help them determine the best course of action for their situations.

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