Proposed NJ Law Would Track Crashes Caused by Cannabis Impairment

The New Jersey legislature is considering a law that would collect data on road accidents in which cannabis usage is a contributing factor. The new law is intended to improve roadway safety by giving authorities the information they need regarding potential dangers associated with the marijuana legalization that occurred in 2022. Studies from other states may also provide relevant information to supplement the data to be collected from within New Jersey.

The proposed legislation would require law enforcement to supply the data needed to study marijuana impairment and vehicle accidents. As a consequence of increased usage spurred by legalization, one might expect to see more road accidents caused by cannabis-impaired drivers. However, data collected from other states that previously allowed marijuana consumption is inconclusive.

Colorado, California and Oregon reported more impaired driving accidents after those states legalized marijuana.

On the other hand, research from Nevada showed a reduction in serious vehicle wrecks once cannabis usage was permitted. The researchers studying marijuana impairment did account for other factors affecting accident and injury rates such as seat belt usage. In many ways, New Jersey roads differ from the ones in those western states. While the existing research may be helpful, information from within the Garden State is likely necessary to obtain an accurate picture of marijuana-impaired driving here.

Monitoring and tracking the effects of marijuana usage on auto accidents can be more complicated than doing the same with alcohol, for which the impact on driving ability at various consumption levels is thoroughly understood and well documented. By contrast, there are few objective standards for measuring the deleterious effects of marijuana usage on driving ability. This complicates the automobile accident investigation process and any related studies. Anyone involved in a vehicle accident should consult an auto accident attorney to protect their rights.

The nature of marijuana intoxication may further complicate research efforts. Many studies confirm that marijuana usage impairs driving ability. Naturally, this makes a driver more likely to be involved in an accident. However, some research indicates that drivers impaired by marijuana drive more slowly and increase following distances. Such factors would therefore tend to decrease the severity of crashes.  Therefore, determining the overall impact of marijuana impairment will likely require a multifaceted review.   

Located in Ridgewood, Seigel Law is one of northern New Jersey’s premier personal injury law firms. If you or a family member have been injured in a vehicle accident, please call 201-444-4000 or contact us online for an initial consultation.

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