GHSA Releases Guide for States as New Research Raises Concerns about Marijuana Legalization’s Impact on Traffic Safety

Resource Type
News Releases

October 18, 2018

CONTACT: Kara Macek, 202-789-0942 x140

WASHINGTON, D.C. – New research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) finds the number of motor vehicle crashes reported to insurers and to police has increased in the first states to legalize recreational marijuana sales when compared with neighboring states that have not legalized marijuana. This research is a reminder that states need to consider the traffic safety impact before legalizing marijuana.

This new research adds to the body of knowledge on the impact of marijuana legalization on traffic safety, which GHSA aggregated into a newly-released succinct guide summarizing the most pertinent marijuana driving studies to date regarding:

  • Marijuana use by drivers overall;
  • Marijuana presence in arrested and crash-involved drivers;
  • Marijuana presence in drivers involved in fatal crashes;
  • Impact on crash rates; and
  • Public perceptions of marijuana use and driving.

The guide notes that in Colorado and Washington, fatal crashes involving marijuana have increased in both states since legalization; however, GHSA does not believe that firm conclusions cannot yet be reached regarding crash rates in these states.

As GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins states, “At a minimum, both the new data from IIHS and GHSA’s guide illustrate that states grappling with marijuana legalization would be wise to consider the potential traffic safety ramifications.”

The GHSA guide was authored by Dr. Jim Hedlund, a former senior official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dr. Hedlund has written three drugged driving reports for GHSA. His most recent study focused on the traffic safety issues for states dealing with increased marijuana and opioid usage.

# # #

About GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.