Marijuana and its legalization is one of the most discussed topics nowadays amongst pundits, politicians, and the average voter. Every voting cycle the move towards acceptance of marijuana progresses and those who are fans of its legalization are thriving.
Nearly everyone who has even heard the word marijuana spoken knows that April 20th is treated as a special day by enthusiasts and casual fans of marijuana alike. This is a day many come together to celebrate, but a recently published study in JAMA Internal Medicine could definitely hamper the excitement of the day for some.
The researchers of the study looked into 25 years’ worth of data on fatal car crashes. Their findings saw a 12 percent uptick in the risk of fatal car crashes on April 20th, after 4:20 p.m. The conclusion was fatal car crashes happen more often on 4/20. The researchers even compared the increase in accidents to other popular events in the U.S. The author of the study said, “Although the vast majority of Americans do not celebrate 4/20, the observed association was comparable in magnitude to the increase in traffic risks observed on Super Bowl Sunday.”
In order to measure the difference between April 20th and other days, the researchers narrowed down the data to any fatal accidents that occurred after 4:20 p.m. on April 20th. Then, they compared deadly crashes in the same timeframe on days that were one week earlier and later to be used as “control days.”
The data was collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It ranged from 1992 to 2016. The reason the researchers started in 1992 was this is the year 4/20 was first made widely popular by High Times magazine.
The study went a step further than the broad-based research. The researchers found men and women faced similarly higher risks on April 20th. One finding that might not be surprising is drivers under 21 had a much higher risk of a fatal crash. Younger drivers have a 38 percent increase in the risk of a deadly accident on April 20th versus the researchers control days. That’s why it’s so critical to ensure teens understand the importance of safe driving.
These findings aren’t too shocking and are in line with other findings that accidents increase on other days like the Super Bowl or New Year’s Eve.
“Whether we’re talking marijuana or alcohol, the fact is that any substance that alters your mental state can make driving dangerous,” Alex Lauderdale, a driving safety expert from EducatedDriver.org told Axcess News. “This recent report really drives that point home.”
The findings also varied by state with the highest risk increases happening in Maine, North Dakota, and Hawaii. There was no correlation between a state’s level of marijuana use and the increase in risk, so states like California or Colorado didn’t actually see a higher risk.
The researchers noted the findings could be influenced by other aspects of 4/20, including an increased chance that celebrators are also consuming other drugs or alcohol. However, it doesn’t reduce the findings because it still proves the danger is much higher on April 20th, regardless. For those looking for ways to reduce the risk of car accident, staying at home on 4/20 wouldn’t be a bad idea.
With marijuana becoming more accepted and its legality spreading throughout the nation, this will be something to keep an eye on. There’s a large wave of opinion that believes marijuana is much less dangerous than alcohol, in terms of impairment and other effects. Even if this is true, driving under any sort of impairment is incredibly dangerous and will surely increase the risk of getting into an accident.