As states across the country follow a trend that leads to more relaxed marijuana laws and legalization of the drug for limited purposes, an interesting question has arisen. Some are wondering whether the change in marijuana's legal status will cause more people to die in crashes at the fault of drivers who are high on pot. Researchers seem to be divided on the issue.
Researchers are attempting to determine whether there is a correlation between marijuana use and being involved in a car accident. More specifically, experts are trying to determine if marijuana use typically leads to car crashes and crash-related fatalities. Studies found that the effects of marijuana include slow decision-making, decreased peripheral vision, and an inability to multitask well, all of which prove to be useful, if not imperative, skills for driving a vehicle.
However, research has also found that drivers who are high on pot are more likely to be cognizant of the fact that they are impaired and proceed with caution while driving, generally unlike drunk drivers who do not compensate in such a way. Another concern then arises from the situation in which a driver is both drunk and high—the mixture of substances will most likely cancel out any cautious behavior and result in driving that is more impaired than would otherwise result from being under the influence of one of the substances alone.
Whether this issue will be a large one to contend with remains to be seen. However, being high on marijuana definitely impairs the user's judgment, and driving a vehicle while judgment is impaired presents a concern for law enforcement and traffic safety officials alike.
It is important to note that driving while impaired by marijuana is illegal in every state across the country, no matter what their laws are on the use of the drug alone. Some states have set threshold limits on the amount of the drug that can legally be present in the system while a user operates a car, akin to the legal limit of alcohol that may be present in the blood while driving. Other states have not taken steps to set a legal limit. So far, no states have reported an increase of car crashes or traffic deaths as a result of drivers testing positive for marijuana.Inconclusive
Perhaps compounding matters in an area that already appears murky is the fact that two studies recently performed resulted in opposite findings. One found that drivers under the influence of marijuana alone were 80 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Another study found that drivers who tested positive for marijuana were actually less likely to be involved in a crash than were drivers who did not have any drug in their system.
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