STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — States where marijuana has been legalized have experienced a rise in traffic crashes, a potentially concerning statistic for New Yorkers in light of the recent decision to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
A new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that crash rates spiked in California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington following the legalization of recreational marijuana and implementation of retail sales.
While overall crash rates increased in the states, preliminary data from a separate IIHS study suggests that drivers who used marijuana were not any more likely to be involved in a crash than those who did not.
“Our latest research makes it clear that legalizing marijuana for recreational use does increase overall crash rates,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “That’s obviously something policymakers and safety professionals will need to address as more states move to liberalize their laws — even if the way marijuana affects crash risk for individual drivers remains uncertain.”
Following the legalization of recreational marijuana and implementation of retail sales, the aforementioned states saw a 6% increase in injury crashes and 4% increase in fatal crashes compared to neighboring states where marijuana remains illegal.
These findings are consistent with prior research, like a 2018 IIHS study that found that the implementation of marijuana retail sales led to a 5% increase in crash rates in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
Similar trends have been observed when analyzing insurance records, with the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finding that the implementation of marijuana retail sales led to a 4% increase in collision claim frequency in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington from 2012-2019.
DANGEROUS DRIVING BEHAVIOR
A recent survey conducted by AAA also found that marijuana usage, on its own, can prompt motorists to partake in more dangerous driving behavior, but when paired with alcohol consumption, the effects can