MADD Statement on Increase in Vehicle Collision Insurance Claims In States with Legalized Recreational Marijuana Use


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On June 22, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) released a “Status Report” on the potential effect of legalizing recreational marijuana use on crash rates. The report found that highway crashes (based on crashes of all severities reported to auto insurers) increased by 3 percent overall in three states after the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

We share the growing concern about the increasing numbers of drivers with drugs in their systems. About 1 in 5 drivers tested positive for at least one legal or illegal drug in the 2013-14 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers conducted by the federal government. Thirteen percent tested positive for marijuana, up from 8.6 percent in 2007.

MADD also agrees with the Report that it is important to continue to fight drunk driving. According to the report, “When it comes to impaired driving, alcohol remains the biggest threat.” IIHS estimates that nearly 7,000 deaths could have been prevented in 2015 if all drivers were below the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

We are committed to supporting proven countermeasures to make our roads safe no matter what drug – whether alcohol, marijuana, or another drug – is the cause of impairment.

MADD remains laser-focused on our blueprint to eliminate drunk driving by advocating for ignition interlocks for all offenders, frequent and well-publicized sobriety checkpoints, development of advanced vehicle technology, and by supporting law enforcement efforts to apprehend impaired drivers.

We also support research that will help fight against drugged driving. The IIHS/HLDI report shows that we still have much to learn. Further research will help answer the most important question: How do we measure impairment — not just presence — by drugs other than alcohol? While this research is ongoing, MADD will continue to work with local and state governments and the federal government to increase the number of law enforcement officers who are Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), officers uniquely trained to identify and apprehend drivers who exhibit signs of impairment by drugs other than alcohol. We know that law enforcement is on the front lines of all impaired-driving enforcement and we will continue to support them in their efforts to keep us safe.

MADD is here to serve all victims of substance impaired driving. Our 24-hour victim hotline is 877-MADD-HELP.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 350,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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