In a move thought to be worth $7 billion, New York has just legalized marijuana for recreational use. The state will now launch a campaign to educate locals on the benefits and risks of using the drug. The propaganda is also set to warn people that they mustn’t drive when they’ve taken marijuana. But there are fears that the legalization of recreational marijuana will make New York City’s roads more dangerous than ever.
Dangers of driving under the influence
Marijuana contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It’s this substance that impacts the brain and makes driving while under the influence of it dangerous. THC is known to affect people’s balance, coordination, and judgment. Reaction times are also impaired by THC, so it’s very risky for drivers to get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they’ve taken the drug. Some marijuana users experience negative side effects, including anxiety, vomiting, and hallucinations, which further support not driving when using it.
Impact on road safety
There is solid evidence that shows driving when taking marijuana increases the likelihood of a serious collision. One French study found that marijuana was the most common drug in fatal motor vehicle accidents. Other studies have concluded that having THC in your blood makes you twice as likely to be the cause of a fatal crash. You’re also 50% more likely to be involved in a crash if you’ve taken marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. So what impact does this have on accident rates? In Arizona, marijuana was legalized in 2020. 2021 saw fatal road accidents surpass 2020’s figure, which indicates people may be driving with marijuana in their systems. At present there are approximately 625 car accidents in the city every day, and, if marijuana takers risk driving, this number could soon rise. If you’re caught up in a road accident for this reason, a New York personal injury lawyer will get involved. They’ll assess your injuries and try to get compensation for you to help cover things such as medical bills.
Protecting road users
Driving while under the influence of marijuana will continue to be a crime in New York, even though it has been legalized. Officials will ensure that this measure is clearly promoted over the coming weeks and months. New York police have even announced that they’ll use Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to help them establish whether a driver is driving under the influence of drugs. A DRE is a specialist police officer who has had expert training in recognizing when an individual is impaired. An assessment and tests are usually used by the officer before they reach their conclusion. It is hoped that this will be the most accurate way to decide whether someone has driven illegally. Marijuana can show up in a user’s blood and saliva tests for days post-use, even though the effects of the drug will have completely worn off.
Legalizing marijuana has been a controversial choice. The impact it could have on road statistics is worrying. However, it is reassuring that the city and the state are doing lots of things to stamp out driving and drug-taking.