The argument regarding the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado has its fair share of both supporters and detractors. Some point to a drop in violent crimes and big bumps in tax revenue, while others will point to an increase the number of people driving under the influence. Interestingly, though, that little stat may actually add one more item into the pros column.

Since weed legalization, Colorado has seen the number of highway fatalities on the state's roads drop to nearly their lowest point in history. The Washington Post's "opinion blog on civil liberties and the criminal justice system," The Watch, has the story, claiming that not only are year-over-year averages down, but that in so far in 2014, highway fatalities are below a 13-year average.

We won't get into the deeper statistical analysis – The Watch's page has a few graphs for stats nerds to dig into – but we will talk about why these figures are down. First, there is the obvious explanation. Cars and trucks are safer today than they've ever been, which would logically lead to a drop in highway deaths. We cannot, however, point to miles driven as a motivator behind the drop, as Coloradoans are actually driving more.

Then, there's the less obvious answer. The legalization of weed may cut back on the number of people drinking. With fewer drunks, that means fewer dangerous drunk drivers on the road. And, as The Watch cites, stoned drivers are safer than drunk ones, so the drop in fatalities makes sense. Of course, we'll agree that more study is required to conclusively prove that point, but it's certainly one worth considering.

Whatever the reason for the drop, fewer highway fatalities, even if it isn't directly related to pot legalization, is certainly something that all sides can agree is a positive development.


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  • 43 Comments
      Read Tull
      • 4 Months Ago

      Since the titanic sank, the number of fishermen in western alabama has increased. Coincidence.   Correlation is not Causation.  

        Andy
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Read Tull

        I don't think the story is saying fatalities are down because of legalized weed.   I think they are just saying there was no increase as some would have suggested there would be.

      ksrcm
      • 4 Months Ago

      Sheesh people, I didn't read this as "Smoking weed makes you a safer driver." What the article states is that if you want weed banned, unsafe traffic and increased fatalities isn't gonna be your best argument for it ...

        D
        • 4 Months Ago
        @ksrcm

        Although if the reason is because people have switched from drinking to smoking, you could make the argument that making this substitute drug legal HAS actually decreased traffic fatalities.

      jj360
      • 4 Months Ago

      This begs the question 'are liquor sales down?'. If so then you have something.

      turbomonkey2k
      • 4 Months Ago

      Without a comparison against states that have not similarly legalized it's impossible to adjust for things like safer vehicles that have been introduced to the roads. This article has no way to attach the reduction to the legalization of marijuana.

      usmcrchris
      • 4 Months Ago

      This is a joke, right? How is this a "report" when it is based on an opinion piece, which is based on questionable "analysis" from half of the info that needs to be looked at in order to come to a reasonable conclusion? Sad "reporting" Autoblog...

      marv.shocker
      • 4 Months Ago
      No surprise to me. Most people would rather stay home and chill than go out and drive after they've been smoking.
      jphyundai
      • 4 Months Ago

      Drive high, get a DUI. This is a stupid article. Driving under the influence is dangerous to other motorists whether the intoxicant is THC or alcohol. 

        EZen
        • 4 Months Ago
        @jphyundai

        DUI is dangerous, yes, but they are not equally dangerous. Alcohol makes you more willing to engage in risky behavior and feel less vulnerable. Study after study shows that people who are drunk drive more recklessly and faster. People who are high drive slower and less recklessly. They are both dangerous to people on the road but not on the same level.

      jesscott
      • 4 Months Ago

      Self serving stat for some folks I am sure.  Colorado highway death stats are HERE  to simple a conclusion to start screaming weed is the safest thing since sliced bread

      knightrider_6
      • 4 Months Ago

      Let's review

      • Legalizing pot did not increase motorist fatalities
      • Legalizing gay marriage did not result in people marrying their pet goat
      • Providing subsidized health care to millions of people did not hurt job creation.


        SCOTTM
        • 4 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6

        Last one is where you lost me!

          knightrider_6
          • 4 Months Ago
          @SCOTTM

          well, why don't you see for yourself


          http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/01/1318120/-Jobs-Report-9-8-Million-Jobs-Created-in-Private-Sector-Since-Obamacare-Passed

        edward.stallings
        • 4 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6

        If you don't think government regulations with respect to the ACA are hurting business and job creation, you are an idiot and completely out of touch.  Legalizing gay marriage would not result in people marrying goats because that is not what it would legalize. It would result in NAMBLA types adopting young boys to abuse, however.

          William
          • 4 Months Ago
          @edward.stallings

          Sure... just like opposite sex marriage results in child abuse, right?


          Pedophiles are pedophiles genius, and EVERYONE hates them.  Are you illogically prejudiced, or simply ignorant?

          Lachmund
          • 4 Months Ago
          @edward.stallings

          Wow. Idiots are on a run.

          Card13
          • 4 Months Ago
          @edward.stallings

          Yea, because little girls are always safe from sexual abuse by heterosexual adult males. 

        Cool Disco Dan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6

        Two out of three aint bad.

          knightrider_6
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Cool Disco Dan

          Facts:

          http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/01/1318120/-Jobs-Report-9-8-Million-Jobs-Created-in-Private-Sector-Since-Obamacare-Passed

        Lachmund
        • 4 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6

        This must be the most sensible post i EVER read by you!

      Adam Cordova
      • 4 Months Ago

      Shouldn't this be under Autoblog Green? 

      zoom_zoom_zoom
      • 4 Months Ago

      This is a STRETCH to say the least.

        SCOTTM
        • 4 Months Ago
        @zoom_zoom_zoom

        I enjoy stretching. It can be good for you.

      Wolfman
      • 4 Months Ago

      Fatalities are at historic lows is most states. What a streaming pile of an excuse for "journalism." autoblog sucks ever since huffpo took over. 

        Lachmund
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Wolfman

        Oh look, who let the tea baggers out of their caves?!

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