Marijuana Legalization Not Associated With More Vehicle-Pedestrian Fatalities, Says Study
According to a new study titled An examination of relationships between cannabis legalization and fatal motor vehicle and pedestrian-involved crashes, state-level laws that legalize the possession, use and distribution of medical marijuana or recreational marijuana are not associated with an increase in the prevalence of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving pedestrians. The study was published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention.
For the study researchers looked over the association between marijuana legalization and fatal motor vehicle crash rates during the years 1991 to 2018: Both pedestrian-involved fatal crashes and total fatal crashes were examined. Researchers monitored motor vehicle accident trends in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington and compared them to five control states.
According to the study, researchers failed to find any increase in pedestrian-involved fatal motor vehicle crashes that could be in any way attributable to the enactment laws that legalize marijuana. They also found thatt two of the three states – Washington and Oregon – “saw immediate decreases in all fatal crashes following medical cannabis legalization.”
Researchers found that: “Overall, these findings do not suggest an elevated risk of motor vehicle crashes associated with cannabis legalization, nor do they suggest an increased risk of pedestrian-involved motor vehicle crashes.”
For those wanting to read the study’s full abstract, it can be found below:
Objective: While attention has been given to how legalization of recreational cannabis affects traffic crash rates, there was been limited research on how cannabis affects pedestrians involved in traffic crashes. This study examined the association between cannabis legalization (medical, recreational use, and recreational sales) and fatal motor vehicle crash rates (both pedestrian-involved and total fatal crashes).
Methods: We used crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to calculate monthly rates of fatal motor vehicle crashes and fatal pedestrian-involved crashes per 100,000 people from 1991 to 2018. Changes in monthly crash rates in three states that had legalized cannabis (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon) were compared to matched control states using segmented regression with autoregressive terms.
Results: We found no significant differences in pedestrian-involved fatal motor vehicle crashes between legalized cannabis states and control states following medical or recreational cannabis legalization. Washington and Oregon saw immediate decreases in all fatal crashes (-4.15 and -6.60) following medical cannabis legalization. Colorado showed an increase in trend for all fatal crashes after recreational cannabis legalization and the beginning of sales (0.15 and 0.18 monthly fatal crashes per 100,000 people).
Conclusions: Overall findings do not suggest an elevated risk of total or pedestrian-involved fatal motor vehicle crashes associated with cannabis legalization.