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Fatal car crashes rise on April 20, according to study

April 20 is a self-proclaimed holiday for marijuana users in North Carolina and the rest of the U.S. Where recreational marijuana is legal, there is evidence of increased hospital visits by marijuana users as well as indication of a rise in impaired driving on this day. However, as many marijuana users consume alcohol at the same time, it can be hard to determine how many accidents are caused by drug use.

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows a definite rise in fatal car crashes every year around April 20. Researchers primarily studied crash data between 1992, after the holiday was popularized, and 2016. In particular, they noted a 12 percent increase in car crash deaths compared to other days in the surrounding weeks. This amounted to 142 additional deaths. The increase was seen in most, but not all, states.

Most of the accidents under analysis did not have police data on drug testing, so researchers could not say what percentage of accidents were marijuana-related. Some states have taken steps to reduce drug-impaired driving; for example, last year, the Colorado Department of Transportation partnered with Lyft to provide discounted rides for marijuana users on April 20. A 2016 survey found that half of marijuana users in Colorado think driving under the influence of marijuana is safe.

When impaired driving leads to injuries or fatalities, the victim or the family of the decedent, as the case may be, may file a car accident claim or wrongful death suit. With a lawyer to take care of the claims process, individuals might be able to better focus on their physical and emotional recovery. A lawyer may be able to build up the case with the contributions of accident investigators and drug experts before handling negotiations.

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