Several years’ worth of data proves that legalizing cannabis does not increase traffic deaths
The long-held assertion by those opposed to cannabis legalization that its acceptance in society would lead to a serious increase in the number of road deaths has been debunked numerous times already. If more evidence was needed, though, it has now been produced following a study created by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Compiling data from the past several years in states where cannabis has been legalized, researchers have found that there has not been any significant increase in road fatalities in those states.
Researchers took a look at data related to pedestrian-involved deaths and fatal crashes between 1991 and 2018 in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, comparing the figures to those in five control states. They used data compiled by the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and found that, in Oregon and Washington, the number of fatal accidents actually dropped after cannabis became legal. Colorado saw an increase; however, the number of fatal crashes per 100,000 people is just 0.18, much lower than what has been associated with legal alcohol or even what has been attributed to cell phone use while driving. According to some studies, 21% of fatal accidents involving teen drivers has been attributed to the use of cell phones.
The researchers concluded, “While attention has been given to how legalization of recreational cannabis affects traffic crash rates, there has been limited research on how cannabis affects pedestrians involved in traffic crashes. This study examined the association between cannabis legalization (medical, recreational use and recreational sales) and fatal motor vehicle crash rates (both pedestrian-involved and total fatal crashes)… We found no significant differences in pedestrian-involved fatal motor vehicle crashes between legalized cannabis states and control states following medical or recreational cannabis legalization. Washington and Oregon saw immediate decreases in all fatal crashes (-4.15 and -6.60) following medical cannabis legalization…”