COLORADO SPRINGS – Two studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) says the total number of crashes are up in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
Both studies were presented Thursday at the Combating Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving summit in Virginia. The HLDI study compared the frequency of collision claims per insured vehicle in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Nevada. Nevada and states as compared to neighboring states Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming.
The HLDI study said, “Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.”
The IIHS study looked at three of the four states the HLDI study did, with the exception of Nevada. In that study, the IIHS estimated that Colorado, Washington and Oregon combined saw a 5.2 percent increase in the rate of police-reported crashes per vehicle registrations compared with Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah between 2012 and 2016.
Like the HLDI study, it factored in differences in demographics, unemployment and weather in each state.
According to the IIHS, “The 5.2 percent increase in police-reported crash rates following legalization of recreational marijuana use is consistent with the 6 percent increase in insurance claim rates estimated by HLDI.”
While both studies said they found a link between states that have legalized recreational marijuana, it admitted that “marijuana’s role in crashes isn’t as clear as the link between alcohol and crashes.”
The report attributed that to a lack of information and inconsistent testing drug testing strategies to determine marijuana-related traffic incidents.