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HLDI Reports Legal State Pot Smokers Crash Cars More Often

John Gilbert Oct 19, 2018
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Most people know beer makes you pretty, and pot makes you hungry, but how does the legal recreational use of marijuana effect one’s driving? Super Chevy found that’s what the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) wanted to know, so they conducted a study that reveals stoned automobile operators have a tendency to turn in more insurance claims for unexplainable collision damage and tend to ignore low oil-pressure warning lights than sober drivers.

Please note we made the part up about the oil-pressure idiot lights, but the following is quoted directly from the HLDI report, and the Highway Loss Data Institute is a nonprofit public service organization that gathers, processes, and publishes insurance data on the human and economic losses associated with owning and operating motor vehicles.

“Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older in the United States. Voters approved the measure in November 2012 and sales began in January 2014. Washington voters also approved recreational marijuana in November 2012 and sales began in July 2014. Oregon followed suit two years later, legalizing marijuana in November 2014, with sales starting in October 2015. In April 2017, the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) published the first study analyzing changes in collision claim frequencies in each of these states, relative to nearby states, following the inception of legal recreational use. The analyses controlled for differences in the rated driver populations, the insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather, and seasonality. The results indicated that for all three states, the legalization of retail marijuana sales was correlated with increases in collision claim frequency. This study expands on the prior study by including an additional year of collision loss data and methodology changes. It also accounts for the recent legalization of retail marijuana sales in Nevada.

As shown in the following figure, the legalization of retail sales is associated with increases in collision claim frequencies. Collision claim frequencies in Colorado were 12.5 percent higher than in Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming after legalization. Similarly, claim frequencies in Washington State increased by 9.7 percent compared with Idaho and Montana. Both results were statistically significant. In Oregon, the increase in collision claim frequency was not significant and less than 1 percent higher than in Idaho and Montana.

Note that Nevada was removed as a control state from the Oregon analysis, since Nevada voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2016. Retail sales in Nevada began in July 2017. HLDI is currently monitoring collision claim frequencies in Nevada and will update results after enough time has passed since legalization to provide meaningful results.”

There’s more detail to the HLDI report, and it can be found in a Google search for hldi_bulletin_35-08. And please don’t forget driving under the influence (DUI) of any intoxicant is illegal in all states, and provinces.

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