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The Marijuana Car Crash Conundrum

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 27, 2017

To date eight states — including the PIA Western Alliance states of Washington, Oregon and now California — have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In Washington and Colorado recreational use has been legal for three years and it’s two for Oregon.

An analysis of auto crash data by the Highway Loss Data Institute found collision claims went up 2.7% since the legal sale began in those states. Institute senior vice president Matt Moore said, “We believe that the data is saying that crash risk has increased in these states and those crash risks are associated with the legalization of marijuana.”

Pot proponents like Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project dispute the data. His worry is the study comparing what’s happening in Washington, Oregon and Colorado to more rural states like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming that have smaller urban centers.

“The study raises more questions than it provides answers, and it's an area that would surely receive more study, and deservedly so,” Tvert said.

Researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute say they accounted for factors such as the number of vehicles on the road, age, gender, weather and if employment was involved. And Moore said the point of the study is to hopefully get legislators in other states to consider the impact of pot use in driving.

Kenton Brine is the president of the Northwest Insurance Council. His organization and insurers in the Northwest and in other parts of the country are keeping an eye on those claims. Insurers have been worried about the increase in claims that started rising in 2013 after several years of declining.

“It would appear, probably not to anyone's surprise, that the use of marijuana contributes to crashes. It would be difficult to say that marijuana is a definitive factor, lacking a citation, in a significant number of crashes to say that what we're seeing here is a trend,” Brine said.

However, he noted marijuana is not the only concern factor. Distracted driving like texting and cellphone use is being noted. Then there’s more people driving. The economy has improved and we have more extra cash for gasoline. 

Carole Walker of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association also has questions. She said the data from the Highway Loss Data Institute comes from claims stretching from January of 2012 to October of 2016.

“The problem here is that it's a pretty new experience. This is the first study that has been able to isolate legal pot as one of the factors,” she said.

Russ Rader of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said his group’s main concern remains alcohol and marijuana adds to the concern. “While we have proven countermeasures, proven strategies for reducing alcohol impaired driving, there are a lot of unanswered questions about marijuana and driving," Rader said.

Another question that has been tossed around is how to figure out if someone is marijuana impaired. AAA’s safety foundation looked at the issue and found the THC limits being implemented by states have no scientific basis. The foundation worries that innocent people will be convicted.

A study released last year by AAA's safety foundation found legal THC limits established by states with legal marijuana have no scientific basis and can result in innocent drivers being convicted, and guilty drivers being released.


Source link: US News

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance news  The Marijuana Car Crash Conundrum  Weekly Industry News 

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