Marijuana has played a part in several recent accidents and in more fatalities over the past three years than alcohol, according to the California Highway Patrol's Santa Cruz office.
In 2010, four of seven fatalities were caused by marijuana, according to Officer Sarah Jackson. There were no alcohol or drug-related fatalities in 2011, however there were three in February and March of 2012.
According to a CHP report:
The three-vehicle collision on Highway 129 on the morning of February 10th was caused by a young woman under the influence of marijuana. The young woman who caused the collision did not survive and another was seriously injured.
A young San Lorenzo Valley man lost his life in the twilight hours of March 14th when his truck ran off the edge of Graham Hill Road and struck a tree. He was under the combined influence of alcohol and marijuana.
Just after midnight on March 18th, a 35 year old man lost control of his vehicle and collided with a tree on Highway 1 at State Park Drive. He was under the combined influence of alcohol and marijuana.
“These collisions are particularly tragic," said CHP Commander Matt Olson. "They each cut short the lives of young people with so much ahead of them and left behind devastated families. Sadly, these collisions were completely avoidable. Our hearts go out to their families and we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening to others.”
Statewide, the CHP said, 30 percent of all fatal accidents are caused by drivers under the influence of drugs.
The CHP passed out this warning:
CHP asks the community of Santa Cruz to please be aware of the impairing effects of marijuana. Whether it is illicitly or legally obtained, marijuana has a profoundly negative effect on the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Prescription drugs and other illegal drugs also impair drivers. Everyone knows – or should know by now - that drinking and driving is dangerous, but drug use is on the rise and is just as dangerous behind the wheel. Help us spread awareness and save lives.