With the legalization of marijuana gaining momentum across the United States, a new study suggests that the common use of marijuana can have negative outcomes.
Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health report that fatal car crashes involving marijuana use tripled during the previous decade, accounting for much of the overall increase in drugged-driving traffic deaths.
Reports indicate that one out of nine drivers involved in fatal collisions would test positive for marijuana – a trend that if continued would overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.
This study was performed using crash statistics from six states, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Researchers found that “drugged driving,” predominantly from marijuana, increased from 16 percent of fatal traffic deaths in 1999 to 28 percent in 2010.
What is noteworthy about the study too, is that there are many drivers who drive under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana at the same time. The study concluded that when a motorist drives under the influence of alcohol, the risk of a fatal crash is 13 times greater than a sober driver. However, when a motorist gets behind the wheel under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, the risk increases to 24 times that of someone sober.
It is important to take into account that driving after using any drug, including marijuana, is similar to consuming alcohol and then driving. Both marijuana and alcohol are drugs that have the ability to impair one’s capability of driving safely by slowing down reaction times and hindering judgments. Drugs and alcohol alike affect vision, making drivers more easily distracted, as well as creating amplified risky behavior in drivers.