CHICAGO – Illinois State Police have announced a month-long traffic enforcement where they will be looking for not only speeders, but also distracted and influenced drivers.
This includes drivers under the influence of marijuana.
The new enforcement will take effect in August. It comes after a new study looked at legalized cannabis and how it affects safety on the road.
Here are the questions with no definitive answers:
- How dangerous is it to drive with marijuana in your system?
- Is the widespread use of the drug recreationally contributing to unsafe roadways?
A new study conducted by an insurance group but published in the journal of alcohol and drugs aims to do just that.
“We looked at, uh, injury and fatal crashes and we compared, uh, crash rates in five western states that legalized recreational sales of marijuana with, uh, states that didn’t during a similar time period,” said Russ Rader, Senior Vice President for Communications at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
SUBSCRIBE TO FOX 32 CHICAGO ON YOUTUBE
The study, which compiled data from the Federal Highway Administration from 2009 to 2019, found a 5.8-percent increase in injury crashes and a 4.1-percent increase in fatalities in states where pot is legal.
“One of the things that is important to do in, um, studies like this is to take into account other changes that might affect crash risk as well. The economy is a big one,” Rader said.
Ken Wolski of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey does not believe legalizing the drug has made our streets any less safe.
“The state of New Jersey has determined that, prior to legalization, 600,000 New Jersey residents used cannabis every month. If there were, if there were carnage on our roads because of the, the use of cannabis, this would be a well-known fact by now,” Wolski said.
Studies have shown cannabis can stay in one’s system for up to 30 days, making it difficult to blame it for an accident.
Researchers hope this serves as a wake-up call that, as harmless as pot can appear, it can still impair both your judgment and your driving.