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Marijuana holiday may be linked to fatal car crash increase

For marijuana users in New York and the rest of the U.S., April 20 is an unofficial holiday. This means an increase in marijuana use on and around April 20, even in states where recreational marijuana is illegal. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana impairs driving skills, so it's not unnatural to link the holiday with more accidents.

A study has found that every April 20, the number of fatal car crashes increases as a direct result of the holiday. Researchers analyzed the U.S. government's fatal car crash data between 1992, when the holiday was just becoming popular, and 2016. They found that an increased fatal crash risk of 12 percent, or 142 additional deaths, attended the holiday.

Because of insufficient police data on drug testing, researchers could not say which accidents in particular were the result of drug-impaired driving. This reflects a larger concern where officers cannot detect marijuana use since drivers often combine the drug with alcohol abuse.The study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, comes at a time when many states are trying to raise the public's awareness of drug-impaired driving. In a survey, only half of all marijuana users in Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012), were aware of this danger.

Drug-impaired driving is a form of negligent driving, so when marijuana users cause a car accident, the victims might have the basis for a personal injury claim against the driver. In some cases, an attorney can first seek a settlement with the at-fault motorist's insurance company. If the offer is insufficient, a lawsuit might be advisable.

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