The fight over medical marijuana in Michigan reached the state Supreme Court recently, with the court ruling that local areas could not ban medical marijuana. The decision ensures that the statewide legalization of medical cannabis will stand for all residents. Legalization for medical purposes was approved by 63 percent of voters in a ballot referendum, and the relaxed attitude toward cannabis use is in line with decriminalization efforts nationwide.
While medical marijuana may have health benefits, there are risks associated with the increasing acceptance of cannabis use. In the past decade, car accident fatalities involving drivers on marijuana have tripled, according to researchers from Columbia. If the trend continues, drugged driving will overtake drunk driving to become the most common cause of collisions caused by impaired motorists.
The legalization of marijuana for either recreational or medicinal purposes does not relax the laws related to impaired driving. Motorists are still prohibited from driving while on drugs that impair their abilities. Victims of drugged driving crashes may pursue a claim for damages with the help of a car accident attorney in Detroit. Contact Goodman Acker, PC to speak with an attorney today.
Drugged Driving Crashes Increase Dramatically
Researchers reviewed motor vehicle collision data from 1999 to 2010 in states that test for drugs after driving deaths. More than 23,500 toxicology reports were reviewed involving drivers who died within one hour of a motor vehicle accident.
The data showed that drunk driving deaths have neither increased nor decreased very much over the past decade. The rate of fatal crashes involving drunk drivers has remained relatively steady at approximately 40 percent. Drugs, on the other hand, increasingly played a role in causing deadly collisions. In 1999, just 16 percent of deadly collisions involved drugged drivers. By 2010, more than 28 percent of traffic deaths happened in crashes with drugged drivers.
This dramatic increase can be almost entirely explained by looking at the statistics on drivers testing positive for cannabis. In 1999, only four percent of drivers had marijuana in their system after a fatal collision. By 2010, 12 percent of motorists in deadly crashes tested positive for marijuana. This means that one out of every nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana today.
Marijuana combined with alcohol is especially dangerous, because a driver under the influence of both alcohol and cannabis is 24 times more likely to become involved in an accident than a sober person. A driver who has consumed alcohol above the legal limit but no drugs has a 13 times greater risk of a crash as compared with someone sober.
The increase in marijuana-related accidents may be caused, in part, by the fact that there is less stigma associated with driving high rather than driving drunk. States that have legalized marijuana are having a difficult time determining exactly how to treat drugged driving since there is no test like a breathalyzer to tell if someone is high at the time of the collision. Marijuana use has also been shown to have increased equally among all age groups and both sexes, which suggests that there is widespread adoption of the drug and simply more motorists on the road who are high. Drivers who are stoned endanger themselves and others, and should be held responsible for collisions.
A car accident attorney in Detroit can help after a collision. Call Goodman Acker, PC at 1-866-DONT-LOSE or visit www.goodmanacker.com to schedule your free consultation.