April 20 is a self-proclaimed holiday for all marijuana users in New York and across the U.S. Because of the increased use of marijuana on this day, many hospitals see an increase in the number of visits from marijuana users suffering from vomiting and intoxication. However, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that the effect is more far-reaching.
Researchers analyzed the rate of fatal car crashes across the U.S. from 1992, when the 4/20 holiday was already widespread, to 2016. They found that on that date, fatal car crash rates increased by 12 percent on average.
Researchers did not have enough evidence to say which accidents involved marijuana, but the link is a plausible one. Marijuana is known to impair driving abilities, yet it can be hard to detect by law enforcement authorities during a traffic stop.
Last year in Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, 15 percent of DUI arrests involved marijuana. In a 2016 survey, half of marijuana users in the state claimed that they believed driving while smoking was safe. The state has partnered with Lyft to provide discounted rides to pot smokers on 4/20.
With most states taking little initiative to raise awareness of drug-impaired driving, marijuana will continue to play a part in car accidents. Occupants of other vehicles who have been injured in such a collision often incur catastrophic injuries that require extensive medical care and treatment. An attorney representing an injured victim could use police reports, eyewitness testimony and other evidence to demonstrate that the driver was impaired and should thus be held financially responsible for the losses that have been sustained.