The dangers of drugged driving are being revealed in stark form in US states where the use of cannabis has been legalised. Since the use of cannabis became legal in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, there has been a 3% increase in collisions claims, according to data from insurance firms.
With the legalisation of the drug, more drivers have tested positive for use following crashes. There are still questions as to how serious the impairment levels imposed by the drug are for drivers. Some research into cannabis use carried out using simulators has suggested that the drug does inhibit ability. And a number of studies have suggested that drivers under the influence of cannabis have twice the risk of being involved in a crash. Other studies meanwhile have been unable to show that there is a link between cannabis use and driver impairment that will lead to crashes.
However the data now collected by the insurance firms does suggest that impairment does occur. The quantity of cannabis that can affect driving ability is however still unknown.
Colorado in particular has seen a serious problem with cannabis use amongst drivers. After the drug was legalised, collision claims were 14% higher than for neighbouring states where the drug remains illegal. In Washington State, claim frequency was 6% higher than in neighbouring states where the drug remains illegal. And for Oregon, collision claims were 4% higher than for the neighbouring states where the drug remains illegal.
With more states now intending to legalise cannabis for personal use, it is clear more research is required. A key focus needs to be on discovering the degree of driving impairment imposed by certain quantities of cannabis.