In the state of Wisconsin, Assembly Bill 480 and Senate Bill 363 would legalize the use of marijuana for medical purposes. If the legislation passes, Wisconsin would join a growing number of states in the U.S. in liberalizing drug laws.
Medical marijuana may have proven health benefits, but the relaxation of marijuana laws has also had another effect throughout the country. Marijuana use has grown among people of all age groups and among both men and women. This, in turn, has resulted in a significant increase in the number of crashes involving drugged drivers. With some states going even further with relaxing drug laws to now legalize recreational marijuana use, this trend is expected to continue and could get worse.
Driving while impaired by marijuana can be dangerous, but does not necessarily have the same stigma that driving drunk does. Drugged driving is illegal, though, and victims of accidents involving drugged drivers should speak with a Janesville car accident lawyer for information on filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to recover crash damages.
Drugged Driving Accidents Increasing Nationwide
Reports on a recent study of impaired driving show that fatal car accidents involving pot use have tripled in the United States in recent years. Researchers looked at crash statistics from six different states, chosen because those states performed toxicology testing on drivers in fatal collisions. Data was analyzed from 1999 to 2010 and researchers evaluated records from 23,500 drivers who had died within an hour of a fatal accident.
The research revealed that the percentage of fatal accidents involving drunk drivers remained relatively steady from 1999 to 2010. Over this time period, the percent of fatal collisions involving a drunk driver hovered right around 40 percent each year. The high percentage of fatal accidents involving drunk drivers is easy to understand, since research has proven that a driver who is drunk is 13 times more likely to become involved in a car accident than a sober motorist.
When it came to drugged driving, however, the percentage of fatal accidents involving a motorist on drugs has increased dramatically. In 1999, only 16 percent of car accident deaths involved a drugged driver. By 2010, 28 percent of the motorists in fatal collisions tested positive for drugs.
The toxicology tests were also pretty clear on what type of drug was driving the increase: marijuana. Just four percent of drivers in fatal accidents tested positive for marijuana in 1999 while 12 percent of deadly accidents involved marijuana use in 2010.
This trend is a disturbing one, and researchers expect that accident risks from stoned drivers will continue to increase. In fact, within just five to six years, drugged drivers are expected to be more responsible for impaired driving tests than drunk drivers.
A Janesville Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a drugged driver, a Janesville car accident lawyer can help you to take legal action. If you can prove the other driver caused the accident because he was impaired, you should be entitled to damages including medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Call a Janesville car accident lawyer at Nowlan & Mouat LLP after your crash for help making a damage claim.