April 20 or 4/20 is the self-proclaimed “holiday” for marijuana enthusiasts and users. However, data shows that this day is linked to a slight increase in fatal crashes in the United States, an Associated Press news report states. The study was based on an analysis of 25 years of data and we don’t know if pot was a factor in any of those 4/20 crashes. But, what we do know is that marijuana can impair driving ability and that previous studies have shown that many pot-using drivers do get behind the wheel after partaking and believe it is safe to do so.
Rise in Accident Fatalities
For this study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers at the University of British Columbia analyzed U.S. government data on fatal car crashes from 1992 to 2016. Around 1992 was when 4/20 became famous as a “pot holiday.” They compared car accident deaths on that date with deaths on a day the week before and the week after during the study period.
Fatalities increased just a little in most states amounting to an overall increased risk of 12 percent. That accounts for 142 additional driver deaths linked with the holiday. Other studies have shown the link between drinking and driving and fatal crashes on days such as Super Bowl Sunday and New Year’s Eve. Many of the accidents researchers analyzed had no law enforcement data on drug testing because there is still no way to confirm that marijuana was involved. But researchers believe marijuana was responsible for some crashes.
An Important Issue to Consider
This is an important statistic to digest, particularly when marijuana use is more widely accepted in the United States. Pot is legal for medical use in most states. Recreational use has been legalized in nine states, including California. While marijuana does impair one’s ability to drive, directly linking pot with car crashes can be complicated because the drug is used while drinking alcohol. A 2014 study in six states found that marijuana was increasingly detected in drivers killed in car accidents over a 10-year period.
Marijuana as a recreational drug is legal in California. However, under California Vehicle Code Section 21352, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Marijuana, while legal, can still impair your skill and judgment. If you have been using marijuana, please do not drive. Suppose you have been injured by someone who is under the influence of marijuana. In that case, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses, even if the driver isn’t facing criminal charges. An experienced California car accident lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.