While marijuana use is legal in more states driving while impaired isn’t and can cause deaths and injuries says Philadelphia car accident lawyer Rand Spear.
It wasn’t just Republicans who won big in this month’s election. Ballot measures nationwide concerning the recreational and medical use of marijuana passed in most states. As the use of marijuana becomes increasingly legal it raises the possibility of more stoned drivers endangering others on our roadways says Philadelphia car accident lawyer Rand Spear.
This month there were measures in five states proposing legalizing the recreational use of marijuana: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. It was turned down in Arizona, the vote in Maine is still too close to call and the measures passed in the other three states. Ballot measures concerning the medical use of marijuana were voted on in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota. They were all approved. New Jersey allows for medical use of marijuana. It’s not legal to use in Pennsylvania.
Recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2012. A year later state officials didn’t have a good idea on its impact on traffic accidents because of how accident records are kept, according to the Denver Post. If someone involved in an accident is found to have been impaired by marijuana use and is arrested he or she faces a driving under the influence charge which is the same as if the person were intoxicated by alcohol. The state didn’t maintain separate records for those driving while stoned.
A study published in 2014 by researchers at Columbia University found that stoned driving probably increased across the country. Researchers used data from the federal government to find the percentage of drivers killed in car accidents who tested positive for marijuana nearly tripled between 1999 and 2010.
That could be evidence of wider marijuana use by the general public as time has passed but the tests used could only show marijuana use before the driver died not whether the driver was impaired by marijuana at the time of death.
A report by the American Auto Association published earlier this year found the percentage of drivers who had marijuana’s active ingredient THC in their systems at the time of fatal accidents in Washington State more than doubled between 2013 and 2014, according to NBC. The state legalized marijuana use in 2012.
The study looked at vehicle crashes where at least one driver tested positive for THC. They found 40 fatalities in 2010 and 85 in 2014. Since not all drivers involved in fatal accidents were tested for THC the number could be higher. The test used could only indicate past marijuana use not impairment at the time of the accident.
Whether legal or not marijuana use prior to driving can be deadly. It can slow a driver’s reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance and decrease coordination according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Stoned drivers tend to weave in and out of traffic lanes and have altered attention to the road. If alcohol is also consumed while smoking marijuana drivers are more impaired with more lane weaving likely to take place.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle accident while in a vehicle or as a pedestrian due to a driver impaired by drug or alcohol use in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact Philadelphia car accident lawyer Rand Spear at 888-373-4LAW today so you can set up a free consultation to discuss the accident, how the law may apply in your situation and what you should do next to protect your rights to compensation for your injuries.