Driver’s “up in smoke” in pot-influenced car crashes

Driver’s “up in smoke” in pot-influenced car crashes

A new study reveals more pot-related fatal car accidents than in prior years.

The Traffic Safety Commission released new data that show the number of drivers in Washington involved in fatal car accidents influenced by marijuana doubled from 2013-2014, the inaugural year of legalized marijuana sales.

Shelly Baldwin, a Commission associate, believes that the results are distressing within the context of decreased alcohol-related fatal car accidents. “When we see this rising trend, it’s concerning, especially when other factors are decreasing,” Baldwin said.

In prior years, from 2010 to 2013, between 32 and 38 fatal accidents were influenced by marijuana, a steady recorded number. However, the number jumped to 75 in 2014, and more than half were above the legal limit for marijuana use. But many of the tested fatalities had also tested positive for alcohol and other recreational drugs.  Baldwin notes, “We see drivers who have marijuana and alcohol and cocaine. They’re not mutually exclusive because drivers are not mutually exclusive.”

But the number of fatal-crash drivers that used marijuana shortly before stepping into a vehicle represents only a margin of the total population of fatal accidents. In 2014, there were 619 fatal accidents but only 12 percent tested positive for THC. From 2010 through 2014, 7 percent of 3,027 drivers tested positive for THC.

Yet the number of drivers involved in fatal car crashes who had been drinking regardless of whether or not they were above the legal drinking limit of .o8 percent, has dipped from 214 in 2009 to 144 in 2014.


Source: The Washington Times

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