On behalf of The Ward Firm on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

As a resident in a state where marijuana has been legalized, are you taking the effects of the drug as seriously as alcohol when it comes to driving? For the last few decades we have all heard the constant messaging regarding the dangers of drinking and driving and the substantial consequences if you are caught driving over the legal limit. But is this same message resonating with those using marijuana? According to a new study, the answer to that question may be no.

Does marijuana use mean more auto accidents?

What a new research study from the Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) has found, is that states where marijuana is legal for recreational use have more incidents of motor vehicle crashes than states where marijuana is not legal.

California was not one of the states where the research study was done, but rather in Colorado and Washington where recreational marijuana was first legalized. Since those states have a longer amount of time becoming accustomed to dealing with its legalization and its effects, it can be a barometer for what other states can expect.

If California follows the states that had the research study done, it can be expected that there will be an increase in collision claims by 6 percent compared to a nearby state where marijuana is not legal. Police reports from 2012 to 2016 in states where marijuana is legal reported over 5 percent more crashes per million on registered vehicles.

Determining impairment can be difficult

It is against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana in any state across the U.S. The research has pointed out that unlike alcohol, determining the amount of marijuana that is in someone’s system at the time of a collision is not as straightforward as with alcohol. This means determining the role marijuana may have played in a collision is not as clear as when it happens with alcohol.

Whether you are a recreational marijuana user yourself, or just drive frequently on California roads, you should know that there may be a precedent set between the legalization of marijuana and increased auto collisions. This could mean more accidents with severe injuries or even fatalities.