IIHS: Legalizing Marijuana May Increase Accidents

Discussion in 'In the News' started by xcel, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] I do not indulge but it makes sense.

    Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – July 26, 2017

    An interesting analysis.

    Estimated Automobile Accident Effects Due to Recreational Marijuana Sales in 3 states

    Change in claim frequency for vehicles up to 33 years old, 2012-16​

    A recent article by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) highlighted another study about legalizing recreational marijuana use and a higher propensity of accidents in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. According to the article, collision claim frequencies are about 3 percent higher overall than what would have been expected without legalization according to a new Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) analysis. This is HLDI's first report on how marijuana legalization since 2014 has affected automobile accidents reported to insurers.

    More drivers admit to using marijuana, and it is showing up more frequently among people involved in crashes. Though there is evidence from simulator and on-road studies that marijuana can degrade some aspects of driving performance, researchers haven't been able to definitively connect marijuana use with more frequent real-world crashes. Some studies have found that using the drug could more than double crash risk, while others, including a large-scale federal case-control study, have failed to find a link between marijuana use and crashes. Studies on the effects of legalizing marijuana for medical use also have been inconclusive.

    Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults age 21 and older with voter approval in November 2012. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington. Oregon voters approved legalized recreational marijuana in November 2014, and sales started in October 2015.

    HLDI conducted a combined analysis using neighboring states as additional controls to examine the collision claims experience of Colorado, Oregon and Washington before and after law changes. Control states included Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming, plus Colorado, Oregon and Washington prior to legalization of recreational use. During the study period, Nevada and Montana permitted medical use of marijuana, Wyoming and Utah allowed only limited use for medical purposes, and Idaho didn't permit any use. Oregon and Washington authorized medical marijuana use in 1998, and Colorado authorized it in 2000.

    HLDI also looked at loss results for each state individually compared with loss results for adjacent states without legalized recreational marijuana use prior to November 2016.

    Data spanned collision claims filed between January 2012 and October 2016 for 1981 to 2017 model vehicles. Analysts controlled for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.

    Collision claims are the most frequent kind of claims insurers receive. Collision coverage insures against physical damage to a driver's vehicle in a crash with an object or other vehicle, generally when the driver is at fault. Collision claim frequency is the number of collision claims divided by the number of insured vehicle years (one vehicle insured for one year or two vehicles insured for six months each).

    Matt Moore, senior vice president of HLDI:
    Colorado saw the largest estimated increase in claim frequency compared with its control states. After retail marijuana sales began in Colorado, the increase in collision claim frequency was 14 percent higher than in nearby Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming. Washington's estimated increase in claim frequency was 6 percent higher than in Montana and Idaho, and Oregon's estimated increase in claim frequency was 4 percent higher than in Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

    Each of the individual state analyses also showed that the estimated effect of legalizing recreational use of marijuana varies depending on the comparison state examined. For example, results for Colorado vary from a 3 percent increase in claim frequency when compared with Wyoming to a 21 percent increase when compared with Utah.

    HLDI's new analysis of real-world crashes provides one look at the emerging picture of what marijuana's legalization will mean for highway safety as more states decriminalize its use. In the coming years, more research from HLDI and others will help sharpen the focus. As HLDI continues to examine insurance claims in states that allow recreational use of marijuana, IIHS has begun a large-scale case-control study in Oregon to assess how legalized marijuana use may be changing the risk of crashes with injuries. Preliminary results are expected in 2020.

    In addition to Colorado, Oregon and Washington, five other states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for all uses, and 21 states have comprehensive medical marijuana programs as of June. An additional 17 states permit limited access for medical use. Marijuana is still an illegal controlled substance under federal law.

    David Zuby, Exec VP and CRO of the IIHS:
    My questions are these. If the data is believable, has overall crime rates and the costs of enforcing the same including injuries and fatalities based on the formerly illegal marijuana trade gone up, stayed the same or fallen than the increased accident risk and those costs?

    We may need a bit more detail on the intended or unintended consequences of this democratic experiment.
    BillLin likes this.
  2. Jay

    Jay Well-Known Member

    Correlation does not equal causation and in this case the correlation is very poor. 3% overall increase in collision claims?! Please.
    BillLin and xcel like this.
  3. Erdrick

    Erdrick Well-Known Member

    What has happened to overall travelled miles?
    What have we seen happen in regard to distracted driving?
    What has the impact of out of state visiting drivers been?
    Trollbait, BillLin and xcel like this.
  4. S Keith

    S Keith Well-Known Member

    I agree that more data is better, but the logical conclusion is that the increased legality in the use of a substance that impairs driving will be abused more frequently when it's legal as the overall use has increased. This will naturally lead to more accidents because you don't make better decisions or have faster reflexes when you're stoned.

    I find that when I give humanity the benefit of the doubt, I am frequently proven wrong. The world is full of stupid people. It's a good day when you're not one of them. Everybody knows what happens when you drink and drive, but DUIs still happen. We just have a new means to facilitate bad decisions and engage in less responsible behavior when getting behind the wheel.

    Again, I'm all for gathering more data and context and analyzing it on a crash rate vs. # of crashes.

    Also, I have no problem with the herb. I do not partake due to employment restrictions.
    BillLin and xcel like this.
  5. Elixer

    Elixer Well-Known Member

    I live in Colorado and I would say for sure that accounting 14% increase in auto accidents for those below 33 all to marijuana is definitely flawed. There is a large influx of young people to the state at the moment, a few percent growth a year, especially in the Denver area. 3% population growth over 4 years would account for almost all of the increase. The population growth combined with worsening traffic I expect accounts for most of the change.

    This is very subjective, but I notice more road rage than I did 4-5 years ago, which obviously isn't related to marijuana. Also medical marijuana has been available in the state for many years before legalization. Most regular recreational users would just go to a "doctor" for "back pain" or similar and get a card to buy it. Recreational marijuana is ~2x the cost of medical marijuana at the moment, and it's illegal to use publicly or while driving, so legalization hasn't caused large significant changes - much more incremental.

    Obviously, marijuana does impair one's ability to drive, and I do believe its legalization has increased traffic accidents, just not to the extent reported. Driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving are much much bigger dangers at the moment IMO.

    I'm not sure if I support full legalization, but I definitely support decriminalization. 5 year prison sentences for a couple of marijuana possessions is ridiculous, a waste of taxpayer's money, and a ruiner of lives IMO.
    Trollbait, Jay, xcel and 1 other person like this.

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