Study Draws Connections Between Pot and Auto Accident Claims

A recent study claims that three states that recently legalized marijuana have had collision claims increase by 2.7 percent. Colorado, Washington, and Oregon have all passed laws that make it legal for pot to be used recreationally. However, the study does more to raise questions than draw any conclusions.

 More Data Needed

 One major problem in accurately assessing the risks of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) when involved in auto accidents is lack of data. Unlike drunk driving, which is tracked closely, with updated statistics always available, analysts are still catching up with the impact that pot has had on traffic accidents. This is due to the fact that there’s simply less data captured since mechanisms to monitor it are still being put into place. The degree to which judgment and motor skills are impaired by pot are an obvious factor.

 However, studies like the one conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute in June 2017 also call into question other factors that need to be further investigated. These may include such problems as smartphone distractions or even an influx in construction. The takeaway is that, while the study brings up many valid points grounded in fact, there are other facets to investigate.

 Gauging the Impact of Other Substances

 It’s a common pastime for many people to pair a cigarette with an alcoholic drink. It stands to reason that the same could be applied to THC. Combining alcohol and pot can result in increased risk for traffic accidents and more extreme levels of impairment. Data shows that drivers who use alcohol and marijuana in tandem are five times more likely to cause fatal two-vehicle wrecks than drivers who use neither. Whether or not drivers are knocking back a cocktail and then ingesting pot is unclear. However, it’s now legal to do so, and the facts show that it increases potential for car wrecks.

 Prevention and Solutions for Insurance Companies

 The HLDI study indicates that collision claims for the three states studied have increased. However, due to the fact that that there’s no field sobriety test available to check drivers exclusively for THC, it’s impossible to draw definitive conclusions about the impact of its legalization. The fact of the matter is that driving while impaired is always a bad idea and results in serious, often fatal consequences. It also means an increase in insurance claims, which skews risk assessment and puts unknown factors into play. There’s legislation in other states to legalize THC for recreational purposes as well. Pushing for further studies to be conducted to better understand the impact of pot on driving impairment is essential and benefits everyone.

 In conclusion, studies like the one conducted by HLDI not only provides important data about trends that impact risk assessment, but also act as essential tools to push for certain types of legislation. This doesn’t mean simply fighting the legalization of THC, but rather, putting mechanisms into place that allow law enforcement to monitor when pot is involved or the root cause of a car crash. These are the types of approaches that will yield more data and solid conclusions.