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NTSB reports legal marijuana linked to higher car accident rate

Since the use of recreational marijuana in California has been legalized, the rate of traffic accidents could go up if the results in other legal marijuana states are any indication. The National Transportation Safety Board has released a report that concludes that drug-impaired driving has increased nationwide since some states made recreational marijuana legal.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety supported the conclusion of the safety board. Legal marijuana states experienced increases in motor vehicle crashes, but fatalities did not rise. A look at three such states produced crash rates that increased by 6 percent since the new laws came into effect.

Another study that examined police accident reports calculated a 5.2 percent rise in crashes since the reform of marijuana laws. Despite recognizing the problem, authorities lack reliable means of detecting marijuana impairment among drivers. Scientific research has not yet measured how or when the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana impacts driving abilities. Sobriety testing developed to detect alcohol consumption does not translate effectively to users of marijuana.

Regardless of the source of intoxication, a driver has a legal responsibility to be sober. A person injured in a crash caused by an impaired driver might succeed in collecting damages from the responsible party. Since someone hurt in a traffic accident might have trouble investigating an accident and filing a personal injury claim, an attorney with experience in car accidents might relieve the burden. With a legal advocate, a victim could focus on recuperating from his or her injuries while a lawyer organizes evidence from a police report. An attorney could also meet directly with the responsible party's insurance adjuster and present the evidence that illustrates negligence. Taking the case to trial might be an option if an insurer resists paying a settlement, or the victim needs to pursue the personal assets of the driver.

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