Fatal Car Crashes Involving Pot Use Have Tripled in U.S., Study Finds

car-crashFatal Car Crashes Involving Pot Use Have Tripled in U.S., Study Finds

According to a recent study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, fatal crashes involving marijuana use tripled during the previous decade.

The statistics included more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010. “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “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.”

Alcohol contributed to about the same percentage of traffic fatalities throughout the decade, about 40 percent, Li said. But drugs played an increasingly prevalent role in fatal crashes, the researchers found. Drugged driving accounted for more than 28 percent of traffic deaths in 2010, up from more than 16 percent in 1999. Marijuana proved to be the main drug involved in the increase, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 crashes compared with 4 percent in 1999.

This information is significant, according to Gary Pearce, Executive Director of Talbot Partnership for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention. The percentage of teens who think there is a great risk from being a marijuana user has dropped. Young people perceive the negative consequences of driving after using marijuana as less likely than those of driving after alcohol use and that such perception are associated with increased frequency of driving under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana use before driving simply does not have the same stigma surrounding it as drunk driving has gained over the years.

Marijuana impairs driving in much the same way that alcohol does. It impairs judgment, affects vision and makes a person more distractible and more likely to take risks while driving.

For further information on the dangers of marijuana and other drugs, contact Talbot Partnership at 410-819-8067 or info@talbotpartnership.org. Please also visit our website at www.talbotpartnership.org or find us on Facebook.