Study: Fatal Car Crashes by Marijuana Smokers up 300% over Last Decade

Fatal Crashes involving marijuana use tripled during the previous decade, according to researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The pot related accidents have helped fuel the overall increase in drugged-driving traffic deaths. As widespread acceptance of marijuana becomes the norm in the U.S., demonstrated by recent legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, many experts fear a continuing upward spiral of marijuana related traffic injuries and deaths. “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.” The study draws its conclusions from statistics on more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010. The toxicology tests were performed on victims from six states including: California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. While alcohol related traffic fatalities remained steady at 40% throughout the decade, drug related deaths soared from 16% in 1999 to a whopping 28% in 2010. Significantly, the study cites marijuana use as the leading culprit for the swelling number of drug related traffic deaths, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 crashes. This represents a 300% increase compared with four percent in 1999. The study qualifies the pot statistics by emphasizing that because marijuana stays in the blood for up to one week, therefore, researchers said, “the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs reported in this study should be interpreted...

Traffic deaths fall in 2013

The National Safety Council released its preliminary estimate of 2013 vehicle fatalities this week. The 35,200 figure represents an approximately three percent decrease over 2012 but a 1.5 percent increase over 2011. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which also keeps track of fatalities, will release its 2013 statistics at the end of the year. Expect NHTSA’s numbers to be lower based on the way its data is collected. According to a Christian Science Monitor report today, the nonprofit NSC includes accidents on private property and deaths occurring up to a year after the accident. NHTSA, a part of the federal Department of Transportation, counts accidents on public roads only, and only those deaths which occur within 30 days of an...