The data is in and it’s not good news for the states that have legal pot, as car crashes are more common.
Recent auto insurance statistics from an industry study has linked a spike in car accident claims with the legalization of recreational pot use. The findings are the result of a Highway Loss Data Institute analysis.
The insurance research group reported an average 2.7 percent increase in crashes where marijuana is legal.
Washington, Colorado and Oregon have all seen a considerable increase in their auto insurance statistics regarding traffic collisions since they legalized recreational marijuana. Colorado first legalized pot in January 2014 and Oregon and Washington weren’t long after.
“We believe that the data is saying that crash risk has increased in these states and those crash risks are associated with the legalization of marijuana,” said Highway Loss Data Institute senior vice president Matt Moore.
These auto insurance statistics have given the industry – and possibly lawmakers – something to consider.
Marijuana Policy Project communications director, Mason Tvert, a pot legalization advocate, challenged the results of the study. He pointed out that the results were affected by factors other than just the legalization of recreational marijuana use. For instance, he pointed out that the comparison was not between Washington, Oregon and Colorado and comparable states. Instead, those states which have established population centers were compared with Wyoming, Idaho and Montana – states which are greatly rural.
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“The study raises more questions than it provides answers, and it’s an area that would surely receive more study, and deservedly so,” said Tvert.
The researchers from the Highway Loss Data Institute said that they accounted for various other potential influential factors such as the number of vehicles on the road within the control states and those in which marijuana has been legalized. They also accounted for driver gender, age and employment, as well as weather patterns. Also examined in this comparison were neighboring states with similar claim variations.
Auto insurance statistics regarding crash claims linked with marijuana use have been a topic of careful consideration for insurers following a change in trends. After a solid decade of continual crash claim declines, the trends shifted and led to four consecutive years of increases. Insurance companies have pointed to several factors contributing to this new trend. These include the use of cell phones behind the wheel, an improved economy (for more leisure driving) and road construction, it appears as though marijuana legalization is also upping the instance of collisions.