Impact of Cannabis Decriminalisation on Road Traffic Accidents

The legislation of cannabis does not result in an increase in traffic accidents, according to a recent study

This finding is based on insurance statistics from Canada and states in the United States that have decriminalised the consumption of cannabis. 

The study found that there was no correlation between decriminalisation and changes in the number of traffic accidents or related fatalities in Canada, ​​which contradicts previous beliefs that the use of cannabis impairs driving ability and increases the risk of road accidents. 

However, authors of the study recommend further research to fully understand the effects of cannabis on driving. 

Study details 

The Canadian Institute of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society analysed the effect of cannabis decriminalisation on vehicular accidents in Canada and the United States.  

Data from 2016-2019 was examined, including reports on private vehicle collisions, loss, fatal accidents, and weather factors in Canada and the US.  

Overall, the report found no significant effect on the car accident fatality rate, insurance claim frequency, or average cost per claim as a result of legislation. 

Further research 

The recent study employed innovative data-driven methodologies and machine-learning techniques to overcome the limitations of previous research. 

Author of the study, Dr Vyacheslav Lyubchich, found that “while cannabis impairment can affect driving behaviour, this behaviour is not always riskier”.  

But as more countries consider similar cannabis legislation policies, authors acknowledged further research is needed to understand the impact of cannabis on driving and road safety. 

Previous studies have suggested that cannabis legislation is linked to an increase in the number of drivers operating vehicles under the influence of the drug, however, this recent study blows them out of the water. 


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