Car fatalities involving marijuana tripled in U.S., endangering Texas roads
According to Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, one in nine drivers involved in a fatal crash test positive for marijuana.
February 20, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Car fatalities involving marijuana tripled in U.S., endangering Texas roads
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Marijuana is now legal in two states. Recently, Texas Governor Rick Perry also indicated that the strict drug laws regarding marijuana in the state should be relaxed, at least in regards to sentencing. Whatever one's views on legalization, it is clear that many people in Texas and across the U.S. are using marijuana for recreational purposes.
Unfortunately, some people are choosing to drive after having smoked or otherwise consumed marijuana. According to Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, one in nine drivers involved in a fatal crash test positive for marijuana.
Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is against the law, whether that substance is legal or not. For marijuana use, whether a person is "too impaired" to drive can be difficult to determine. Unlike alcohol, marijuana can stay in a person's system for up to several months after use. Also unlike alcohol, there is no bright-line rule under which a person using marijuana is deemed by law to be too impaired to drive. That is not to say a person can safely drive under the influence of marijuana, however. Drugged driving was involved in over one-quarter of fatal crashes in 2010, an increase of 16 percent over a decade.
Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, told ABC News that marijuana impairs a person's ability to drive similarly to alcohol -- a decrease in judgment skills, reflects and vision all occur when a person is high.
Researchers found that if a person is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, the risk of a fatal crash increases by a factor of 24.
Less public awareness of drugged driving
A number of public service campaigns have made drunk driving taboo. From Mothers Against Drunk Driving to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, commercials, public service announcements and increased law enforcement efforts have brought the dangers of drunk driving to light.
Yet, even legal, prescription pills such as Xanax or Oxycontin may render a person unable to safely drive. Other drivers believe it is safer to operate a vehicle under the influence of certain drugs such as marijuana but not others. The fact remains, however, that drugged driving is dangerous, no matter the substance, and tragic results can come from such behavior.
If a person is injured by another driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may be able to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost work and other costs. Families of those tragically killed in such crashes also can obtain help through the legal system. Those involving in a drugged driving accident should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss their legal options moving forward.
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