Since the early ’90s, April 20 has been a self-proclaimed holiday for many marijuana users in California and the rest of the U.S. Though recreational marijuana is legal in this state, many are not aware that the drug can impair driving skills. This is true elsewhere: a 2016 survey, for example, showed that half of pot smokers in Colorado thought it was safe to drive while being high.
Impaired driving naturally increases the risk for accidents. Even more importantly, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests an overall 12 percent increase in car crash fatalities every April 20. This amounts to an additional 142 deaths. While researchers were unable to say which accidents were marijuana-related, the trend is clear enough.
To arrive at their conclusion, researchers studied U.S. government data on fatal crashes between 1992 and 2016. They compared rates on 4/20 to those in the weeks preceding and following it. Police data on drug testing was insufficient; part of the reason why is that many marijuana users also drink alcohol when they drive.
Some states are doing what they can to mitigate the risk around 4/20. Last year, the Colorado Department of Transportation partnered with Lyft to offer marijuana smokers a discounted ride anytime during the holiday.
It can be important for families to get legal representation when a loved one is involved in a fatal auto accident. In order to prevail in a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiffs will have to demonstrate that the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver. Attorneys will endeavor to do so through the use of accident investigation reports, eyewitness testimony and other evidence.