Slightly Questionable Government Report Claims Marijuana Is Causing Increased Fatal Crashes
According to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of people fatally crashing while under the influence of alcohol and the number of people fatally crashing under the influence of various kinds of drugs now rival each other.
According to the study, 39.9% of drivers fatally injured in accidents who were tested for drugs were found to have some sort of drug in their system, which is up 10.9% from 2005. If representative of fatally injured car crash victims everywhere, this would rival the number of drivers who were killed with alcohol in their system.
As for why this increase has occurred, the GHSA blames marijuana legalization (legal in some form in 23 states and the District of Columbia) and the increased use of prescription medications over the past five years.
However, the main blame laid by the GHSA is squarely on marijuana.
The group said, “Marijuana is by far the most common drug that is used, found in roadside surveys, and found in fatally-injured drivers. Marijuana use by drivers likely increases after a state permits recreational marijuana use.”
To support this conclusion, the GHSA cited three studies of marijuana-related traffic fatalities: one, which studied 14 total states, found increased marijuana presence in only three; another that focused on Colorado said that pot-related traffic fatalities had risen by 4%; the final study, focused on California, found no change after decriminalization of marijuana in 2011.
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However shaky this reasoning is (since the other studies seem to point to no significant change in most areas), the GHSA called for action: “We look to the federal government to take a leadership role in this issue similar to that of drunk driving and seat-belt use,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins, later adding, “Every state must take steps to reduce drug-impaired driving, regardless of the legal status of marijuana. We encourage NHTSA to issue guidance on best practices to prevent marijuana-impaired driving.”
Finally, the GHSA called for increased roadside training to spot drivers under the influence of drugs and for the adoption of roadside saliva-based drug tests.
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News Source: The Washington Post