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Drug Use Causes More Accidents than Drunk Driving

Encountering a drunk driver is a concern for motorists throughout the country.
However, many residents may be surprised to learn that a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that alcohol is not the most common impairment that causes car accident injuries and deaths. According to the NHTSA 2013-14 Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, drunk driving has decreased by one-third in the last eight years, while the use of other drugs while driving has increased over the last seven year period. This information is based on survey results from the NHTSA’s sampling of bodily fluids from over 11,000 drivers across the country.

This survey has been conducted five times over the last 40 years. Twenty-five percent of the drivers surveyed and tested had a minimum of one drug in their system that could cause a car accident. The samples showed that drug use among drivers on the weekend increased from 16% in 2007, to 20% in 2014. The use of marijuana increased by almost 50% during those seven years. A second study, titled the Crash Risk Study, found that marijuana users are more likely to be young males who typically crash at higher rates than other drivers regardless of drug use.

Negligent drivers, whether they are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, cause car accidents that often result in serious physical injuries including broken bones, paralysis, catastrophic brain injury, loss of limbs, permanent cognitive impairment, permanent scarring and in the worst cases wrongful death. When a preventable car accident results in loss of life, the emotional injuries that accompany these incidents can be devastating. In order to reduce preventable car accidents caused by drug impaired drivers, tests need to be developed to reliably equate the specific drug concentration levels with a specific degree of driver impairment.