WASHINGTON -- Fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug, according to the latest research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
New research also shows that legal limits for marijuana and driving are arbitrary and unsupported by science.
The foundation examined drug tests and fatal crashes among drivers in Washington, which became one of the first two states to legalize recreational use of marijuana in December 2012. Researchers found:
- The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from 8 to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.
- One in six drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana, which is the most recent data available.
“The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug.”
To date, 24 states have legalized marijuana for therapeutic and medicinal use. Four of those states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, along with Washington D.C., have also legalized recreational use of the drug. At least 20 states, including Ohio, are considering marijuana legalization this year.
Researchers have examined the lab results of drivers arrested for impaired driving, and the results suggest that legal limits for marijuana are problematic because impairment depends on the individual.
“There is understandably a strong desire by both lawmakers and the public to create legal limits for marijuana impairment, in the same manner as we do with alcohol,” said Marshall Doney, AAA president and CEO. “In the case of marijuana, this approach is flawed and not supported by scientific research.”
For more details on impaired driving in AAA's report, see the website here.