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Cannabis and Car Accidents
A paper published on the British Medical Journal website discusses the role cannabis ma have in vehicle accidents. According to the paper, drivers who drive within three hours after consuming cannabis are twice as likely to cause a motor vehicle accident as drivers who are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The paper’s authors, scholars at Dalhousie University reviewed nine previous studies that examined whether there is a correlation between cannabis use and vehicle accidents. There were a total of 49,411 subjects in the data pool from all nine studies. This paper is significant because it looks at cannabis use alone as a factor in motor vehicle accidents rather than grouping alcohol and other drugs besides cannabis together. Previous studies that looked at multi substance factors could not conclude for certain the significance of cannabis use alone.
Cannabis is the most common and most widely used drug in the world. Rates of global use have increased and as such, rates of vehicle accidents while under the influence of cannabis have also increased. Research indicates that motor vehicle accident risk is nearly double if a driver has consumed cannabis. Risk is also increased if the driver is under the age of 35. One study in Scotland from 2007 found that 15% of 537 drivers between the ages of 17-39 tested roadside at the scene of motor vehicle collisions admitted to using cannabis within the previous 12 hours. Motor vehicles are defined as automobiles, motorcycles, SUVs and trucks.
The authors of this paper conclude that cannabis use significantly contributes to risk of motor vehicle accident as it impairs driving. Some in academia and public health cite this paper as rationale for questioning roadside drug testing at motor vehicle accident scenes. Researchers call for countries that already have roadside drug testing in place collaborate with countries considering roadside drug testing to help determine the possible benefits.