Driving on April 20 risky due to increased marijuana use
25 years of research shows a rise in fatal car accidents on that day.
If you’re into the cannabis culture, you might want to put the brakes on driving during the April 20 “Weed Day” celebration. Research from a JAMA medical journal reported by HealthDay shows that your risk of dying in a fatal wreck increases nearly 12% on that day. The popular counterculture holiday among marijuana enthusiasts has shown to be a day of increased pot use and driving under the influence. Studies show it can be a deadly mix.
Data is compiled from 25 years of research.
The research was collected over 25 years’ time, from 1992 through 2016. Canadian researchers analyzed data from fatal automobile accidents within the US. They took particular note of the data from April 20, a day when an upswing of marijuana use occurs.
They analyzed specific data from 4:20 p.m. to midnight on April 20 and compared that data against similar timeframes a week earlier and a week later. The results showed that the chance of a fatal car crash was 12% higher on April 20 and rose to 38% higher for drivers under 21 years of age.
Dr. John Staples, lead researcher of the study, says that cannabis use causes impairment of the skills needed for driving. He added that combining alcohol with marijuana use further increases the risks of a crash. He warns people not to drive while high.
Marijuana advocates say April 20 driving data is flawed.
Marijuana advocates aren’t so sure it’s that simple. Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, points out that the data doesn’t specifically say whether drivers in the April 20 accidents had consumed marijuana or were actually responsible for the accident. NORML is a marijuana advocacy group working to legalize the responsible and safe use of marijuana.
Staples says his work at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver is evidence enough for him. He says on April 20, the hospital sees a huge influx of patients being treated for drug use. However, Staples acknowledges that the data was limited. He said other drugs or alcohol could also be possible causes for the fatal crash increases.
Another consideration is the increase in the traffic itself, which has been compared to the increased traffic risk the Super Bowl sees each year. With increased traffic comes an increased risk of accidents.
Armentano points out that the three states with the highest numbers of accidents haven’t legalized recreational marijuana use.
According to data from Governing.com, 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some capacity. Eight of those states and DC have legalized it for recreational purposes, while the remaining have limited its use for medicinal purposes. All states consider driving impaired by cannabis to be illegal.
If you choose to brave the roads on April 20, you may want to evaluate your car insurance coverage.