Girardi | Keese

Legal Marijuana May Factor Into Increased Car Accidents, But Alcohol Remains 'One of the Biggest Concerns'

Is legal marijuana playing a role in the number of car crashes? An insurance industry study indicates that is so.  

car keys and cannabis.jpeg

The legal definition of "negligence" is the failure of a person or company to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances. Loosely stated, whether or not someone is negligent depends on the "reasonableness" of the behavior in any given situation.

Driving under the influence of any substance, for example, is negligence, when the level of impairment poses a danger to others on the road (exceeding the level of 0.08 for blood alcohol content, for instance, is the legal threshold for alcohol impairment in many jurisdictions).

With that for context, we have a study from the insurance industry's Highway Loss Data Institute, published last month in June, which claims that in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, the risk of motor vehicle crashes has increased. The study ties legal marijuana as a factor in car crashes, based on its analysis of claims filed in 2012-2016.

The Associated Press quotes Kenton Brine, the president of an insurance industry group: "It would appear," Brine said, "probably not to anyone's surprise, that the use of marijuana contributes to crashes." The AP also quotes Russ Rader with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who said, "While we have proven countermeasures, proven strategies for reducing alcohol impaired driving, there are a lot of unanswered questions about marijuana and driving."

Yet, as per the AP report provided in the link below, Rader also mentioned that alcohol continues to be one of the biggest concerns in the insurance industry in terms of crashes and claims. This highlights the negligence aspect of crashes and claims - negligence is negligence, no matter what substance is involved.

Read more: Insurance Study Ties Legal Pot to Boost in Car Crash Claims

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