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Marijuana holiday linked to increased traffic fatalities

Marijuana users in Georgia and around the country began to celebrate on April 20 in the early 1990s when the date was promoted as a pot holiday. Based on research by the University of British Columbia, 4/20 may now be linked to increased traffic deaths. The researchers, who studied federal accident data gathered between 1992 and 2016, discovered that fatalities were about 12 percent higher on April 20 compared to the week before and the week after.

The study, which was published on Feb.12 in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, concluded that the unofficial holiday may have claimed as many as 142 lives. Other research has uncovered similar car accident surges on New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday. While the dangers of drinking and driving are widely understood, studies have found that many marijuana users feel it is safe to get behind the wheel after smoking the drug.

Lawmakers in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use are taking the issue seriously. The Colorado Department of Transportation has teamed up with a marijuana industry group and ride-sharing service to offer those celebrating April 20 a safer way to get home. The coordinated effort was announced after a survey revealed that half of the state's marijuana users thought that it was safe to drive while under the influence of the drug.

Those who drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol can face severe criminal penalties. Furthermore, they could find themselves before civil courts when their reckless actions cause accidents and injuries. When representing a crash victim, a personal injury attorney may study police reports closely when intoxication is suspected to have played a role in a crash. Legal counsel could introduce toxicology test results and criminal indictments to establish negligence in court.

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