With medical cannabis use legal in many parts of the United States, researchers from Temple University and the University of Arkansas measured the possible effects of this legalization on road safety. To do this, they analyzed car insurance data. And obviously, there is a positive effect.
It may sound counterintuitive, but legalizing cannabis could be good for road safety. In this new study, the researchers started from the observation that most data on cannabis and road safety come from the study of fatal accidents. “In 2016, only 37,461 of the approximately 7,277,000 car accidents reported to the police resulted in a death “, writes the team in their study published in the journal Health Economics. “Existing literature therefore misses 99.5% of car accidents . »
For this work, the researchers therefore examined this relationship through car insurance premiums in order to get a clearer picture of traffic accidents and how they were affected by the legalization of cannabis. “Car insurers cover 67% of all medical and property damage resulting from automobile accidents s,” it also read. “Through this lens, we paint a more complete picture. "
For this study, the team focused on the period 2014-2019 . Analyzing all of this data, the researchers determined that the legalization of medical cannabis resulted in lower car insurance premiums on average by $22 USD per policy per year. Additionally, the effect appeared to be greater in areas directly exposed to a dispensary, "suggesting that increased access to cannabis may be driving the results “, can we also read.
Another interesting point:it would seem that areas where drunk driving rates were relatively high before the legalization of medical cannabis saw a sharp drop in their premiums after legalization. The researchers calculated that affected policyholders saved approximately $500 million in premiums. "Using a premium expense ratio , annual savings from reduced medical expenses are approximately $220 million “, adds the team.
To explain these counterintuitive results, the researchers suggest that people using medicinal cannabisdrive less under the influence of alcohol . “Bar equivalents generally do not exist for cannabis and current medical cannabis laws state that consumption takes place in a private residence “, notes the study. “Thus, co-use of cannabis and alcohol is likely to take place at home.”
This is just a theory for now. Further work will be necessary to confirm or not all these results. If so, factors other than reduced alcohol consumption could also play a role.