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Most Coloradans are aware of the dangers of distracted driving and drunken driving. However, an emerging threat to the safety of motorists is increasingly being seen in the form of drugged driving, which has increased ever since the state legalized the sale and use of medical marijuana. State lawmakers are now voicing concern over drug-related accidents. One recent early morning accident in Denver involving a driver who was allegedly high on marijuana will probably add to the argument that drug use of any kind increases traffic dangers.

According to Denver police, the 2:30 a.m. accident came when a 22-year-old female driver speeding on Colfax Avenue allegedly ran a red light at Speer Boulevard and struck another vehicle, injuring six people. One of those injured was still in the hospital a week later. The woman admitted to the arresting officers that she had consumed marijuana and beer before driving. She was charged with one count of driving under the influence of marijuana, four counts of third-degree assault and two counts of vehicular assault. The woman posted a $50,000 bond and was scheduled for a court hearing in early August.

While state and national lawmakers study whether new laws are needed to address marijuana-related traffic accidents, researchers are gathering information from both Colorado and Washington states in order to develop recommendations for how these states should deal with marijuana intoxication. The National Traffic Highway Safety Administration noted that although Colorado’s traffic fatalities dropped 15 percent overall, marijuana-related fatalities increased by 100 percent. For drivers, the best way to preventcar accidents is to refrain from using pot, other drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

All too frequently, unsuspecting motorists are injured or killed by drivers who are negligent. Beyond whatever criminal penalties are applied, affected parties can take civil action against anyone responsible for an accident.