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Legalizing marijuana use might increase car accidents in the U.S.


Legalization of marijuana is a hot topic of debate in several states considering such a proposal. While some pro-marijuana advocates stress that legalizing marijuana could be good for the U.S. economy, the negative impact of marijuana legalization remains a concern. Besides addiction and health complications, making marijuana legal could contribute to more fatal car accidents throughout the United States, including in New Haven, Connecticut.

According to the findings of a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, fatal car accidents involving marijuana have increased threefold over the past decade. Researchers noted that one in nine drivers involved in an auto accident are likely under the influence of marijuana. A study author said that if this trend continues, marijuana will soon be the most common substance involved in traffic fatalities.

Additionally, driving under the influence of drugs was responsible for almost one-third of traffic fatalities in 2010, compared to only about 15 percent in 1999. The researchers also pointed out that a mixture of marijuana and alcohol likely raises a motorist's risk for a fatality.

A car accident resulting of marijuana use is more likely to be fatal because marijuana has a psychoactive compound that may affect a person's vision, judgment and overall state of mind. Impaired driving does not only risk the driver's own life but also the lives of other people on the road.

If a person causes a fatal car accident while driving under the influence, they may be legally responsible for criminal penalties. In addition, the driver can be held liable for damages and losses caused by the car accident.

Source: Philly.com, "Fatal Car Crashes Involving Pot Use Have Tripled in U.S., Study Finds," Dennis Thompson, Feb. 4, 2014

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