Did the legalization of cannabis lead to more car accidents?

by | Apr 15, 2024 | Automotive

It has been more than five years since the Government of Canada legalized cannabis. What impact has it had on our streets?

Driving after using cannabis is illegal. Public Safety Canada reminds us that drugs increase the chance of a crash. This is because cannabis use makes it harder to concentrate, reduces your attention span, causes your reaction time to slow down and alters your perception of time and distance.

But has legalization resulted in more crashes overall?

As risk assessment professionals, actuaries dove into this question. A report from the Canadian Institute of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society looked at car accident reports and insurance claim data. They compared how frequent, how bad and how costly accidents have been after cannabis decriminalization or legalization in Canada and the United States.

Their data modelling and analysis found no statistically significant changes in the average cost and frequency of insurance claims or in the number of fatalities. In other words, the act of decriminalizing or legalizing cannabis has not been shown to result in more accidents.

Other factors were found to be far more likely to predict an increase in accidents than the legal status of cannabis. These include cycles in human behaviour and changes in weather – things like Monday morning or Friday afternoon commutes, the first snowfall of winter and changing the clocks for Daylight Saving Time.

Cannabis use certainly affects how people drive, but the research is showing that legalization itself has not led to an increase in accidents or fatalities.

You can learn more about Canada’s actuaries and the work they do at cia-ica.ca

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