As people in Virginia and across the country debate the legalization of recreational marijuana, some have wondered if motor vehicle laws are keeping up with the times. Cannabis legalization has led to more people driving under the influence. This issue is especially complicated since there is little clear guidance about how much cannabis is too much to allow a person to drive safely. One study indicates that there's good reason for concern about how roadway safety could be affected by marijuana legalization.
The National Transportation Safety Authority released a report saying that more drivers across the country are impaired by drugs. It cited a Texas motor vehicle crash in 2017 that killed 12 people, saying that a man who hit the bus was under the influence of sedatives and marijuana. Given the opiate crisis and the rise in prescription drug abuse, many drug-related crashes aren't caused by cannabis. Still, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety noted that states with legalized marijuana have more car crashes overall.
Another 2017 study found that there was no increase in fatalities linked with the legalization of recreational cannabis. However, the study found that car accidents increased by as much as 6 percent in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, three states with legal recreational marijuana. Neighboring states did not see a similar increase. The researchers still saw an increase after controlling for weather conditions, location and other factors.
Of course, cannabis isn't the only threat on the roads. Distracted, drunk or even drowsy drivers can pose a major danger to other drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians. Someone who has been injured in an auto accident due to someone else's negligent behavior can work with a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for damages such as lost wages and medical bills.