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Driving under the influence of alcohol has always been at the forefront of traffic safety concerns. While it remains a big deal and likely won’t change anytime soon, the American public may have to learn to deal with the new threat of driving while drugged. According to a recent study, this new threat joins drunk driving at the top of traffic safety concerns.

The National Highway Safety Administration has released new numbers showing that cases of driving while impaired by marijuana and other drugs is increasing. The study, which was in the form of surveys done road side, collected saliva and blood samples of drivers. The findings were alarming to say the least. Not only was the overall number of drivers under the influence of drugs in 2014 up roughly 3 percent from those seven years prior, about 38 percent of drivers responsible for fatal accidents were found with impairing drugs in their system.

Marijuana was the drug most commonly found in drivers tested. However, amphetamines were also commonly detected. This class of stimulants includes many legal substances like nasal decongestants and ADHD medication but also includes many illegal substances like the common methamphetamine. Other drugs detected were prescription painkillers and cocaine, although not at the same alarming levels as marijuana.

Independent researchers that were part of the study suggest that while drunk driving has decreased over the last decade, drugged driving may be taking its place. This could partly be due to the increased acceptance of marijuana use and the overprescribing and abuse of prescription drugs.

While the behavioral effects of drunk driving are known, there is still much to learn about drugged driving. In any case, the decision to drive under the influence of any impairing substance is negligent and dangerous. If you or a loved one has suffered a loss at the hands of a drunk or drunk driver, speaking to a trusted personal injury attorney may help.

Source: KOCO.com, “Study: Driving while drugged as deadly as drunk,” Carina Storrs, Oct. 1, 2015