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Risk of Fatal Traffic Crashes Up After April 20 Cannabis Event

Increased risk of fatal crashes on cannabis celebration day in the U.S., especially among younger drivers

MONDAY, Feb. 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — The risk of fatal traffic crashes is increased on April 20 in the United States, when many Americans celebrate the intoxicating properties of marijuana, with celebrations featuring synchronized mass consumption of cannabis at 4:20 p.m., according to a research letter published online Feb. 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

John A. Staples, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues obtained fatal motor vehicle crash data on all crashes involving a motor vehicle traveling on public roadways in which at least one participant died within 30 days of the event. The number of drivers involved in fatal traffic crashes was compared between 4:20 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on April 20 every year from 1992 to 2016 with the number on control days one week earlier and one week later.

The researchers found that there were 1.3 million drivers involved in 882,483 crashes causing 978,328 fatalities in the 25-year study. A total of 1,369 drivers were involved in fatal crashes after 4:20 p.m. on April 20, compared with 2,453 drivers on the two control days during the same time intervals (corresponding to 7.1 and 6.4 drivers in fatal crashes per hour, respectively). On April 20, there was an increased risk of a fatal crash (relative risk, 1.12). The relative risk increase was particularly pronounced for younger drivers.

“Policy makers may wish to consider these risks when liberalizing marijuana laws, paying particular attention to regulatory and enforcement strategies to curtail drugged driving,” the authors write.

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