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Illinois crash data shows more fatal car accidents involve marijuana

Written by Ankin Law Office

States across the nation have been legalizing marijuana use for years in an effort to help severely ill patients find relief. More recently, some states have begun to legalize the drug for recreational purposes. Since the incidence of use has increased, so too has the rate of lethal accidents involving drugs. According to a recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology, marijuana-related accidents are on the rise.

Increased number of accidents linked to marijuana use

CBS Seattle reports that the study indicates that fatal car accidents involving the use of marijuana have tripled in recent years. Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, used data from Hawaii, California, New Hampshire, Illinois, Rhode Island, and West Virginia to evaluate the prevalence of drug use in fatal car crashes. These states were used because each of them perform toxicology testing on all drivers involved in fatal accidents. In total, data on more than 23,500 drivers who passed away within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010 was used in the study.

Researchers discovered that drugs have played an increasing part in impaired driving over the course of the examined decade. In 1999, drugged driving accounted for only 12 percent of car crash fatalities. By 2010, that number had climbed to 28 percent, an increase attributed mostly to marijuana. In 2012, marijuana contributed to 12 percent of fatal crashes, but that number was merely 4 percent in 1999, indicating a threefold increase. According to the study’s lead researcher, one in nine drivers that are involved in fatal car crashes today test positive for the drug. Alcohol use, however, remained steady throughout the study period, contributing to 40 percent of fatal crashes over the 11 year period.

Potentially fatal results of driving under the influence

A tragic accident recently occurred in Cass County, Nebraska, taking the lives of two Weeping Water residents. According to the Fremont Tribune, a 23-year-old man and 23-year-old woman were killed on a local highway when a Quincy, Illinois man was speeding behind them and struck their vehicle in the rear with his sedan. The crash was so severe that both Weeping Water residents were pronounced dead at the scene. The Illinois man was taken to a local hospital for treatment and was arrested upon his release. Authorities charged him with motor vehicle homicide, driving under the influence of drugs, possession of marijuana-less than one ounce, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Authorities believe the driver’s drug use was a direct cause of the accident.

Study researchers indicated that those who drive while under the influence of alcohol are 13 times more likely to contribute to a fatal accident than the sober drivers around them. If drivers add marijuana use on top of alcohol use, they are 24 times more likely to sustain or cause fatal injuries in an accident. Despite these well-known risks, many individuals continue to choose to drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Categories: Auto Accidents