Marijuana prohibition is phasing out in several US states. Each election day, more states and localities take steps to regulate, if not legalize, the medical and recreational use of marijuana. The changing legal status of marijuana use raises various concerns among certain groups. As it stands, several states have a “no tolerance” policy, which means that if you have marijuana in your system, you can be charged with drunk driving. Still, cannabis skeptics are quick to blame the relaxation of cannabis laws for the steady rate of traffic accidents. However, insurance actuaries say cannabis laws are far from the main cause of road accidents.
According recent research from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), the legalization of pot is not linked to an increase in road accidents or the severity of collisions. More accurate predictors of car crashes are periodic patterns of human activity (annual, weekly, and daily cycles) and adverse weather conditions.
The report “Assessing the Impact of Marijuana Decriminalization on Vehicle Accident Experience” examined the impact of legalization of marijuana and regulation of vehicle death ratesinsurance claims frequency or average cost per claim in the United States and Canada and found no statistically significant effect of decriminalization.
The actuarial associations said in a press release that there had been no appreciable change in the pattern and seasonal fluctuations of car accidents in Canada as a result of the change in national legislation. Similar to the hypotheses, there is no evidence of the estimated effects of statewide legalization in the United States to suggest an increase in traffic accidents or deaths were the result of decriminalization.
The study found that although cannabis impairment has an impact on driving behavior, the behavior is not always dangerous. The conclusions of the study were based on a review of previous literature as well as a new analysis of the data. For example, a 2016 study found that harm-aware cannabis users were more cautious, drove slower, and more.
US and Canadian data from 2016 to 2019 was used to create the statistical models, including official records of private vehicle accidents and damage in Canada, traffic fatalities and weather-related factors in the United States. United.
These results are partly consistent with driving simulator data published in the June 2022 issue of the journal Traffic Injury Prevention and showed that frequent cannabis users actually drive better than occasional users.
Similar studies on the impact of cannabis reforms on traffic crashes
Previous studies in the latter category have produced mixed results, according to the report. The actuarial report also documents seven of these studies and concludes that most of them did not find any adverse effects of marijuana decriminalization on traffic accidents. The actuarial document indicates that these earlier studies had some flaws.
The actuarial report also claimed that some previous research had many shortcomings, such as focusing on a single subject or using a single statistical method. The paper says “several other publications look at the relative change without the total impact,” citing a 2015 study that only looked at the number of drivers who came back positive for THC and not the number or severity of crashes. car.
However, there is previous research with conflicting results. For example, studies from 1993 to 2003 (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System) showed that motorists who tested positive for cannabis among the 5% of drivers aged 20 to 50 were more likely to drive too much. quickly, recklessly and disregarding road signs.
It is also essential to keep in mind another study conducted by the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR) in July 2022, which found that the legalization of cannabis did not lead to an increase in driving. with weakened faculties. Although the group stressed that further study and better data collection are needed, the paper claims that decriminalization had no effect or resulted in a drop in drunk driving (DUI) one year. after the establishment of the legal industry.
Assess the impact of similar factors on traffic accidents in the future
The actuaries have developed a systematic method to assess similar models of future developments, such as the decriminalization of other drugs or the adaptation of self-driving car models, in addition to offering new insight into the effects of the decriminalization of marijuana on the experience of car accidents and possible ramifications for the insurance industry.
First, they advised authorities to put in place relevant controls to accurately monitor and quantify the impact of cannabis regulations in states legal for medical and adult use.
If quality series of sufficient length are provided for both periods, the actuaries explained that the control could be from the same region (before and after decriminalization) or comparable regions for relevant comparisons.
Finally, gather information on the number, type and severity of road accidents. For greater accuracy, it is also necessary to obtain details of potentially confusing circumstances, such as weather, time of day and week, motorist’s age and gender. Use statistical methods to estimate the impact of marijuana legalization while controlling for confounding variables.
The author of the report, Dr. Vyacheslav Lyubchich, explained the scope of this investigation. “This study used a variety of data science tools, including machine learning, enhanced statistical models, and other methodologies. To address the influence of weather, the models used high weather data .
Distracted, drunk and tired driving, bad weather conditions, speeding, wrong turns, red light, bad roads, road rage and reckless driving are other factors responsible for a significant increase in traffic accidents around the world.
Unfortunately, media coverage and anti-cannabis groups downplay the role of these other factors in criticizing cannabis legalization and regulation. Rather than blaming increases in medical and cannabis use, responsible agencies can use the methodologies recommended above to track cannabis-related accidents as more states continue to enforce their drug laws. cannabis. In addition to this, there should be regular outreach to warn drivers about road hazards and distracted driving.
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