After retail sales of recreational cannabis began, the frequency of collision insurance claims in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State rose about 6 per cent higher than in nearby states where marijuana is still illegal, the IIHS said in the study.
Analysis by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that claims filed to insurers spiked by as much as 6 percent in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington after marijuana became legal. However, the analysts point out that determining impairment can be a challenge, since unlike alcohol, the threshold for marijuana impairment is not straightforward.
That's the implication in a new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute. A separate study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) detected a 5.2 percent spike in police crash reports in Colorado, Oregon and Washington over a five-year period.
Attempts to measure the effects of marijuana legalization on highway safety have been inconsistent, NBC News said, adding that this is the second consecutive year when a link to increased auto crashes was noted.
A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House by Democrat Jake Wheatley, of Pittsburgh's Hill District, would legalize recreational marijuana for those over 21 and would reverse some related penalties - releasing people jailed on marijuana charges, expunging criminal records related to the drug and reinstating driver's licenses that were revoked or suspended in relation to marijuana.
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The institute acknowledges determining whether someone is impaired by marijuana use in the case of a vehicle accident is hard.
The driver swerved his pick-up truck into the opposite lane and caused a head-on crash. That followed stark warnings from the National Transportation Safety Board, which on Tuesday issued several recommendations to combat drug-impaired driving.
While the two findings are similar, the IIHS noted the states have varying laws on marijuana and "these differences can influence how often consumers buy marijuana, where they buy it and where they consume it".
Among the NTSB's recommendations was one that called for the traffic safety administration to develop specifications for "oral fluid" screening devices that law enforcement can use to test drivers for drug impairment during roadside stops.
Aside from the rise in collisions after approving the use of recreational marijuana, there are concerns about when marijuana is used.