Study Finds Spike in Marijuana’s Role in Fatal Crashes

Posted on in Car Accidents

marijuana in car accidentsAccording to a recent study by researchers at Columbia University, there has been a marked increase in the number of traffic fatalities that were caused by marijuana use in the past decade.

Researchers studied statistics from the half dozen states that consistently conduct toxicology tests on drivers (within one hour of the accident) involved in fatal vehicle crashes. Illinois is one state included in the study. Data from more than 23,500 crashes from the years 1999 to 2010 was compiled and analyzed.

The amount of marijuana contributed fatalities had tripled. In a statement, lead researcher Dr. Guohua Li said, “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana. If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.” The research team found that the percentage of traffic fatalities that were contributed to alcohol in that same time period was 40 percent.

Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol are thirteen more times likely to be in a fatal crash than sober drivers. But if a driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, that risk spikes to 24 more times likely than a driver who is sober.

The authors of the study acknowledge that there were limitations in the research, particularly regarding the testing results of marijuana. The drug can stay in a person’s blood system for up to one week after using it. Therefore, according to the study’s conclusion, a positive result in a toxicology test is an indicator of marijuana use, but does not give a measurement of impairment.

If you have been injured in vehicle accident caused by an impaired driver, contact an Orland Park personal injury attorney today to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.

James A. Payonk, Jr.

10705 W 159th St.
Orland Park, Illinois 60467

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