Study links legalized pot with increase in car crash claims

Although the increasing number of vehicle accidents could not be directly linked to the use of marijuana, the study explained that there is a strong correlation between the two.

Colorado, along with OR and Washington, has experienced 3 percent more collision claims overall than would have been expected without legalization, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.

The study, conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute looked at three states: Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

IIHS studied the frequency of collision claims - that is, claims of damage to the driver's vehicle, usually because of an accident the driver caused - in Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

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Though there's evidence from simulator and on-road studies that marijuana can degrade some aspects of driving performance, researchers haven't been able to definitively connect marijuana use with more frequent real-world crashes.

The study looked at how collision claim rates rates have changed since marijuana was legalized in those states and compared them to collision claim rates in states that that haven't legalized marijuana, CNBC noted.

And there's no evidence to suggest that these states are seeing more auto accidents due to cannabis.

The study did not say if the increase in collisions in the three states were directly caused by high drivers.

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Washington was second highest with a six percent increase, and OR came last with just a four percent increase. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington.

When the green states were compared on a smaller scale to their neighboring states, the difference in auto crash rates went quite a bit higher, especially in Colorado. A new study is saying it may be due to recreational marijuana. In the coming years, more research from the institute and others will help sharpen the focus.

"In states that passed legislation approving the recreational use of marijuana, the data showed that there was a strong indicator that marijuana was a factor in considering the rise of claims", Matt Moore, senior vice president of The Highway Loss Data Institute, said in a telephone interview. Preliminary results are expected in 2020. "Using more data brought down the increase, but the key is that all the signals, no matter how we cut the claims data, point to an increase".

Subin says she is disappointed legalization will have to wait in the Green Mountain State, "The status quo is not acceptable and it's not a neutral place to allow the policy to lie".

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Zuby added that the findings on cases in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado should provide other states "eyeing legalization pause".

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