I thank Ms Lake for her comment and interest in this subject. She is quite correct in saying that the 2015 data on drug-impaired driving in Colorado showed a decline in the number of traffic fatalities where marijuana was the only drug present in the driver’s system.
I thank Ms Lake for her comment and interest in this subject. She is quite correct in saying that the 2015 data on drug-impaired driving in Colorado showed a decline in the number of traffic fatalities where marijuana was the only drug present in the driver’s system. It dropped from 12.1% in 2014 to 7.1%. However, other categories did not reflect a similar decline, and the total number of fatalities from drug-impaired driving increased, as did the number of drivers testing positive for any drugs and the number of drivers testing positive for other drugs combined with marijuana.
We need to consider two important factors when we use statistics on this subject. First, we need to appreciate that there will likely be considerable variability year to year and from state to state. Over time, correct study methodology combined with national and international cumulative results will be most meaningful.
Second, we shouldn’t become too absorbed debating statistics; it is a scientific reality that the consumption of marijuana results in impaired ability to drive a motor vehicle and that combining marijuana with alcohol or other drugs only increases this impairment. Does marijuana cause less impairment than alcohol? Quite likely—but that’s not the point. Impairment is impairment. Measures to improve road safety have always been initially met by strong opposition from affected and interested parties, whether it be the requirement for seatbelt use in the 1970s or the acknowledgment in the 1990s that using cell phones resulted in dangerously distracted driving. We have a public responsibility to craft fair and equitable standards with sensible road-safety laws that define and penalize cannabis-impaired driving.
—Chris Rumball, MD
Chair, Emergency Medical Services Committee
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