The Involvement of Marijuana in California Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes 1998 -2008

Abstract
California data on drivers involved in passenger vehicle fatal crashes using Marijuana were analyzed to determine the impact on traffic safety and to provide information on the possible impact of an initiative, the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative or “TC2010” which is on the California ballot in November 2010 to reform and partially legalize Marijuana.

A total of 1240 persons were killed in the last five years in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving Marijuana. 230 were killed in 2008. Use has increase steadily in the last ten years and is now at 5.5% in fatal passenger vehicle crashes. The use in single vehicle fatal crashes where most drivers are tested shows an involvement rate of 8.3%.

The largest increases occurred in the 5 years following the legalization of Medical Marijuana in January 2004. For the five years following legalization there were 1240 fatalities in fatal crashes, compared to the 631 fatalities for the five years prior, for an increase of almost 100%. In 2008 there were 8 counties where more than 16% of the drivers in fatal crashes
tested positive for Marijuana. Five of the 8 counties had rates over 20%

Based on this experience, a use rate of 16% to 20% is very likely. A rate increase to only 16%, would result in 670 fatalities, and at 20% we would have about 840 fatalities annually. The 20% level would be more than triple the present level of 230 fatalities in 2008. At these levels, Marijuana would rival alcohol at 17.9%, as the top cause of traffic fatalities.

If “TC2010” passes, tax income on Marijuana is estimated at $1.4 billion annually compared to an estimated $4 billion or more economic loss from Marijuana related fatal crashes.
Over 80% of the Marijuana drivers are male, with a median age of 25. In addition, about half (48%) of the drivers using Marijuana also were legally intoxicated. About 75% of the drivers that used Marijuana did not use any other drug. About 1.2 fatalities were reported for each Marijuana involved driver.

Source: Sent by Ronald E. Brooks Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area June 2010

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