Pubdate: Mon, 06 Nov 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Ron Seymour
Page: A1


Group against drunk driving says injuries, deaths due to driving high
likely to increase after pot use is legalized in Canada next summer

Crashes caused by drivers high on pot are likely to spike after the
drug is legalized next summer, MADD Canada says.

American states that have already approved the use of marijuana have
seen sharp increases in fatal accidents in which a driver was impaired
by the drug, MADD's western region manager for chapter services said

"That's certainly been the experience in Washington state and
Colorado, and we will probably see an increase in deaths and injuries
related to cannabis use here after it's legalized next July," Tracy
Crawford said after a MADD-hosted candlelight vigil for victims of
impaired driving.

In Washington state, fatal crashes among drivers who tested positive
for marijuana doubled from eight per cent in 2013 to 17 per cent in
2014, according to Dr. Chris Rumball, a Nanaimo doctor who wrote an
article on the subject last year for the B.C. Medical Journal.

Rumball also said that, in Colorado, the number of drivers in fatal
crashes who tested positive for pot without other drugs in their
system tripled between 2005 and 2014, from 3.4 per cent to 12.1 per
cent. A U.S. study from the Highway Loss Data Institute says collision
claim rates before and after legalization of marijuana are up 16 per
cent in Colorado, 6.2 per cent in Washington state and 4.5 per cent in

MADD Canada, which has long warned about the dangers of driving while
impaired by alcohol, is

particularly concerned about people who've never tried pot before
getting behind the wheel when the drug is legalized, Crawford said.

Although impaired driving rates have dropped by two-thirds since the
mid-1980s, according to Statistics Canada, it is still the leading
cause of criminal death in Canada.

At Sunday's vigil, held at the Laurel building in downtown Kelowna,
candles were lit for people

who've been killed by impaired drivers.

"These are senseless losses because they didn't have to happen," MADD
Canada president Patricia Hynes-Coates told the approximately 15
people who attended the event.

Hynes-Coates' stepson Nicholas was killed by a drunk driver in August
2013 in a crash that happened at 11:17 a.m.

"We hope to see one day that we no longer have to have

vigils because we have eradicated impaired driving," Hynes-Coates

As she has at other MADD events, Kelowna resident Eva Gainer spoke of
the pain and heartbreak of losing her husband and a son to a drunk
driver in 2000.

Gainer said she was somewhat grateful she doesn't recall the accident,
as she has no memory of the pain and suffering her loved ones
experienced before they died.
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