blog home Car Accidents Marijuana Leads to More Crashes

Marijuana Leads to More Crashes

By Timothy Bussey on December 30, 2019

Cannabis, like alcohol, has measurable physiological effects that impair critical driving abilities, as reported by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Marijuana affects driving skills in several ways, including:

  • Slowed reaction time
  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Difficulties with road tracking and lane position variability
  • Decreased and divided attention
  • Impaired executive functions, such as route planning, decision-making, and risk-taking

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) reviewed more than 28 million hospital records from the two years before and after marijuana was legalized in Colorado, as reported in Science Daily. Researchers found a 10% increase in motor vehicle accidents in Colorado after cannabis was legalized, as well as a 5% increase in alcohol abuse and overdoses that resulted in injury or death.

Legalization of Marijuana and Increased Pedestrian Fatalities

A report on pedestrian traffic deaths was issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). U.S. states that legalized recreational marijuana between 2012 and 2016 experienced a collective 16.4% increase in pedestrian fatalities in the first six months of 2017, as compared to the previous year. In contrast, all other states experienced a 5.8% decrease in pedestrian traffic deaths in the same time period.

Colorado Law On Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Marijuana and alcohol are treated similarly under the law in Colorado. While they are both legal for use by individuals, driving under the influence of either is punishable by fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension. Under state law, drivers with five nanograms of active THC in their blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI), as stated by CODOT. As there is currently no roadside device to detect THC, police officers base DUI arrests for marijuana on observed impairment. Even drivers who use marijuana for medical purposes can be arrested for DUI.

Get Legal Help After a Marijuana-Impaired Crash

If you have been injured in an accident with a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, it could be easier to prove the driver’s liability for the accident. Drivers who were using marijuana while driving or found with unsealed containers in the vehicle are in violation of Colorado’s open container laws. Other evidence of recent marijuana use, such as THC in the bloodstream, can also help support your claim. DUI victims are entitled to compensation under state law. For more information, consult with a Colorado Springs car accident lawyer. Contact The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., at (719) 475-2555. We are tough advocates for DUI victims.

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