Has Pot Legalization Affected Colorado's Driving Fatalities?
Legal marijuana has not raised danger on the roads so far
The Post used data to determine if driving high is really the scourge politicians and media outlets have made it out to be. When adjusted for an increase in miles driven in Colorado, 2014 is shaping up to be the safest in decades.
But is this simply a case of correlation and not direct causation? Fatal car crashes have been on the decline for years, meaning this data is simply in line with a broader trend. Still, the numbers do show critics' arguments that pot use would cause Colorado roadways to become more dangerous to be unfounded.
As Americans increasingly support the legalization of recreational marijuana, debate continues on how pot affects driving ability, and just how much is too much to have in one's system when operating a vehicle. News outlets have reported a recent rise in drivers involved in fatal accidents testing positive for marijuana, but the drug can be detected in the blood stream long after its effects have worn off. Impairment can be affected by a wide variety of factors, too, including the strength of the drug, frequency of use and the metabolism of the user, making it extremely difficult to set a concrete "too impaired to drive" level.
A bill legalizing recreational marijuana nearly died in the Washington State legislator last year due to the difficulties of identifying stoned drivers. More recently, the U.S. Congress discussed driving high before they recessed for the summer. The Colorado experiment has, so far, demonstrated on a smaller scale that legal marijuana does not have an adverse affect on driver safety, but it is clear that the science and the regulation of the combination of pot and motor vehicles are both in their infant stages.
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