As more states legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, more drivers are getting behind the wheel while high from THC. Research on how marijuana affects one’s ability to drive is happening all over the country, but many people believe that driving while high is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated from alcohol.
- If you’re involved in a car accident in which a driver was high on marijuana at the time of the accident, you need to take the same steps you would as with any other traffic accident.
- After you make sure you and your passengers are safe, you need to call for help. Calling 911 will ensure police and EMS arrive at the scene as quickly as possible.
- You will have to file a police report, and information from all parties involved will be collected (names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license information, insurance policy information, etc.).
- Videos and pictures of the accident scene and surrounding area will be taken, and witness statements will be collected.
- The insurance companies involved with pay out as little as possible, so you will most likely need an experienced car accident attorney like J. Clay McCaslin on your side.
Car Accidents Increasing After Recreational Weed Made Legal
While much more research is necessary to study the physical effects of THC on the ability to drive, it’s clear that no matter how much people insist that they can drive high just as well as they can drive sober, car accident statistics do not support that claim.
According to an article published by CNN in October 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports there has been an increase in the number of drug-impaired drivers in recent months. The CNN article points to information provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute, which found that the legalization of recreational marijuana has not increased the number of accidents involving fatalities, but that states that have legalized recreational use of pot are seeing more car crashes overall.
These findings include results from two studies presented at the Combating Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving summit at the IIHS’ Vehicle Research Center. The first study found that crashes are up as much as 6% in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized recreational use of pot.
A second study examined the number of police-reported accidents before and after the legalization of recreational use of pot in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. Similar findings revealed a 5.2% increase in car accident rates after legalization than before weed was legal in those three states.
How Pot Affects Driving Ability
In one study conducted by the IIHS, researchers found that a small sample of drivers who smoked pot before driving had slower thinking and perceptual skills. Drivers under the influence of marijuana tended to weave more when tested in simulators. Scientists say more research needs to be done to better understand the correlation between the concentration of THC in the blood or urine and its impact on driving ability. Most people will agree that pot has the following side effects on most users of the drug, and that these side effects may affect one’s ability to drive:
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired judgment of distance
- Impaired perception of time
- Diminished coordination
- Impaired ability to focus
- Reduced concentration
Driving Under the Influence is Illegal
Regardless of the research on how marijuana affects one’s ability to drive, one thing is indisputable: driving under the influence of alcohol and any drug is illegal in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Even in states in which recreational and medical marijuana are legal, it is against the law to get behind the wheel of a car and endanger yourself and other people on our nation’s roadways.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Oregon with someone who may have been under the influence of marijuana, please contact us for a free claim evaluation.