Study Says Fatal DUI Accidents Involving Marijuana Have Tripled


Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have reported that fatal DUI accidents involving marijuana have tripled during the previous decade.

Researchers analyzed statistics from six states that performed toxicology tests on drivers following fatal accidents. The studied states included California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. The statistics included more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of an accident between 1999 and 2010.

Although alcohol contributed to about the same percentage of traffic fatalities, about 40 percent, drugs were shown to be twice as prevalent in traffic fatalities in 2010 than in 1999. Of the drug involved, marijuana proved to be the main drug involved in the increase, contributing to 12 percent of the 2010 accidents compared with 4 percent in 1999.

“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.”

While this study might show an increase in marijuana use, it does not show a correlation between being “high” and DUI related accidents. As the authors of the study point out, THC can stay in a user’s system weeks after the person has smoked and well beyond the intoxication period. The study does not account for this.

Therefore, the researchers appropriately concluded, “the prevalence of nonalcoholic drugs reported in this study should be interpreted as an indicator of drug use, not necessarily a measurement of drug impairment.”

This entry was posted in Field Evidence, Recent News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *