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Car accidents increase along with legalized marijuana

New Yorkers have repeatedly shown widespread support for cannabis legalization. In fact, a working group has been formed to write a bill to make recreational marijuana legal in the state. Still, many drivers are concerned about the potential for roadway accidents caused by drivers under the influence. Some have urged for more research to determine safe and unsafe levels of cannabis exposure for drivers, much like the legal limits for blood-alcohol content that regulate drunk driving.

The National Transportation Safety Board warned in general about the danger of drivers impaired by drugs. In particular, the board cited one March 2017 case in which a Texas pickup truck driver ran into a church bus, killing 12 people. The driver was found to be under the influence of drugs, including sedatives and marijuana. Drugs more powerful than marijuana were also involved in the crash. However, the NTSB urged more research and law enforcement involvement in developing clear guidelines to hold impaired drivers accountable.

This report lined up with the conclusions made by a study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The study found that states that had legalized recreational cannabis also saw a rise in car crashes. Colorado, Washington and Oregon all saw a 6 percent elevation in auto accident rates, an increase not matched in neighboring states without legal cannabis. However, another study showed that no increase in fatalities was linked to legalization.

There are many dangers that people face on New York roadways every day. It's not just drivers under the influence; distracted and drowsy drivers can cause serious car accidents. Someone who has been injured in a car crash due to negligent driving can work with a personal injury lawyer. An attorney can help the accident victim pursue compensation for their lost wages as well as current and future medical bills.

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