August 9, 2022

Could Cannabis Improve the Rate of Truck Accidents?

Read Time:1 Minute, 27 Second

Source: Freight Waves

by Emily Jiannetto

If you weren’t already aware, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration instituted the drug and alcohol clearinghouse in January of 2020; the clearinghouse is a registry that documents all truck drivers that have failed an ordered alcohol or drug test. The initial goal of this registry is so drivers that have failed cannot just find a new job, and keep driving, which is supposed to keep the road safer (Premack). This is not an altogether poor idea, but the majority of drug offenses that have caused these truck drivers to lose their licenses are for marijuana. 

In the two years since the clearinghouse has been implemented, of the 124,000 drivers who have failed a drug or alcohol test, 74,126 of them have failed because of marijuana (Premack). The suspension of their commercial trucking occupations may not be as helpful for public safety as initially thought. 

According to studies conducted by the University of Tennessee, the University of Arkansas, and the Iowa State University, states that have legalized recreational marijuana have an overall 11% lower rate of truck accidents (Premack). (The study is a preprint and has not yet been peer-reviewed.) For example, Colorado and Massachusetts saw an approximate 18% decrease in accidents, while Washington saw a 20% decrease (Premack). A theory for the reduction in accidents is that marijuana is usually consumed at home, instead of in a public bar (Premack). It has been confirmed by multiple studies that high driving is less likely to cause an accident than drunk driving (Premack)—although the best preventative measure for accidents is not to drive under the influence of anything. These findings need to be reviewed, but the results are promising.

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