Colorado is just one of two states that recently legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21. This move towards marijuana prohibition has many questioning how this will affect America and most importantly the safety of its citizens. According to a recent study published by Columbia University, it seems that Americans are just dying for a high.
Columbia University researchers conducted toxicological investigations of 24,000 motor vehicle fatalities between 2000 and 2010. Their results showed that the number of fatal crashes involving marijuana use has actually tripled in the last decade and is now responsible for 12% of those fatal accidents.
A separate study conducted by the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that the number of fatal accidents involving marijuana in Colorado has increased from 5.9% to 10% since 2009 when medical marijuana was legalized. At that same time, near-daily marijuana use increased significantly among adults-especially when compared to states where marijuana is still illegal.
What is even more disturbing is that teenagers and young drivers are using marijuana and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 1 in 8 high school seniors had already driven under the influence of marijuana at least once. Even more devastating, nearly half of the fatally injured drivers who were high at the time of the accident were under the age of 25.
Teenage drivers are already at an increased risk for getting into serious accidents-simply because they haven’t been driving as long as adults. Their immaturity and sometimes reckless behaviors make them more likely to get into serious Denver car accidents - especially when drugs or alcohol are involved. Marijuana, however, seems to affect teenagers a bit more differently. How does marijuana use affect teenage drivers? When driving, it seems that the drug can actually lower a teenager’s IQ, while impairing their ability to drive and reducing reaction times.
Unfortunately, the fact that cannabis is present in a driver’s bloodstream does not always mean that the driver was high at the time of the accident. After all, drivers can test positive for marijuana up to 1 week after use and sometimes longer.
While there is little debate that marijuana and driving is dangerous, proponents of legalized marijuana argue that it isn’t any more dangerous than alcohol consumption, which causes over 10,000 motor vehicle fatalities every year, accounting for 1/3 of all fatal traffic accidents.
Driving High is Still Against the Law
In the State of Colorado, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. Like alcohol, drivers who are high should refrain from driving because marijuana slows reaction times and distorts perceptions. Behind the wheel of a vehicle, stoned drivers may not be able to react quick enough to avoid a serious collision. They may misjudge the distance between themselves and the car in front of them or fail to recognize a light that is about to turn red. When Colorado drivers make the choice to drive high, then they can-and should be held accountable for their actions.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with a motorist that you believe was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident, you need an attorney on your side immediately. Your Denver car accident attorney will need to step in quickly to obtain copies of all toxicology reports and lab results. If the driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of your accident, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
At Denver Trial Lawyers ®, our injury lawyers have the resources and experience to hold negligent drivers responsible for their actions. We will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, file any injury claims, and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
Contact Denver Car Accident Lawyers
The experienced Denver car accident lawyers at Denver Trial Lawyers ® will review your case and help you choose the legal path that is best for you and your family.
In a free consultation, an attorney at Denver Trial Lawyers ® can inform you of your rights, educate you about the legal process, and discuss how we may be able to obtain compensation for you.