Report Scans Marijuana Legalization’s Impacts on Impaired Driving Systems
The legalization of marijuana for medicinal or recreational use at the state level has the potential to have downstream effects on the entire impaired driving system. In its first completed research project, the National Cooperative Research and Evaluation Program (NCREP) convened a group of national experts, representing states that had enacted such laws, to discuss these consequences and identify issues for consideration by other states that may be considering the adoption of these laws.
New research from the Highway Data Loss Institute (HLDI) reinforces the need for states to consider the risk of marijuana-impaired driving as they move toward liberalizing marijuana laws. HLDI insurance claims data links legalizing recreational marijuana to an increase in motor vehicle crashes. Specifically, the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana had a combined effect of 3% more collision claims than their neighboring states after introducing retail sales.
To confront this complex and evolving highway safety issue, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) recently released a comprehensive report about drug use on our nation’s roadways.
Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide for States equips states and policymakers with the latest research, data, laws and programs to help them address this growing problem. The most recent national data found marijuana was present in 12.2% of all fatally injured drivers tested for drugs.
“As more states consider loosening their restrictions on marijuana, State Highway Safety Offices are looking for guidance on the potential impacts of these changes. This research project provides concrete recommendations from those who have already had to deal with the repercussions,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins.
GHSA’s report also highlights a key drug-impaired driving challenge: improving the quality and quantity of data related to drug-impaired driving. GHSA recommends states increase drug testing, bolster laboratory resources, track DUI and DUID data separately in state records, use surveys to gauge public attitudes, and evaluate the effects of any law or program changes.
GHSA applauds HLDI for adding to the body of knowledge on drug-impaired driving and looks forward to working with national and state highway safety partners to address the growing problem of drugged driving.