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Where is the Evidence Driving with a Positive Test for Cannabis Causes Increases in Crashes?

NHTSA'S Office of Behavioral Safety Research

As states have legalized cannabis and provided for use of medical marijuana, the feds became concerned. They began a study of the issues and their conclusions are of interest to scientists, doctors, judges, and should be to police DUI enforcement officers. The federal government and researchers have studied Individual drugs; Drug classes (e.g., THC, stimulants, antidepressants); Drug categories (i.e., illegal drugs versus legal drugs or medications); Multiple drug use; Alcohol; and Combined use of alcohol and drugs. Law enforcement looked to NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for evidence that driving under the influence of cannabis would be the scourge of drivers everywhere, once medical marijuana cards made their way into the hands of drivers in an ever-increasing number of states.

The NHTSA DUI Study began:
"While the extent of use of alcohol by drivers and the risks posed by alcohol use have been well known for many decades, relatively little has been known about the use of other drugs by drivers and the associated risks. However, drug-impaired driving has recently become an issue of increasing public and governmental concern in the United States and in many other countries."

The study looked across the country to support standards of impairment for use in traffic safety laws. "Data was collected from more than 3,000 crash-involved drivers and 6,000 control drivers (not involved in crashes). Breath alcohol measurements were obtained from a total of 10,221 drivers, oral fluid samples from 9,285 drivers, and blood samples from 1,764 drivers. The jury is still out since the data collected so far does not permit unbiased, reliable and valid estimates of the numbers of crashes caused by drug use.


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