A study published in May 2018 by the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that the use of opioids and marijuana may be an increasingly common factor in fatal traffic accidents in the United States. Although additional research is still needed, the opioid epidemic and legalization of marijuana in some states seem to be contributing to these statistics.
A second study on prescription narcotics linked to fatal crashes by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health showed an increase of over five percent from 2010 to 2015; the rate from 1990 to 1995 was one percent.
U.S. law enforcement authorities have been targeting drunk drivers more aggressively than in the past; and over the years have developed fairly dependable methods for testing alcohol levels. Alcohol-related traffic fatalities have decreased because of these tools, as well as increased awareness, arrests, and penalties.
Although drugged driving incidences seem to be on the rise, testing methods are more difficult. Also, even though the opioid epidemic is often in the news, the topic of drugged driving has not been publicized as much as drunk driving.
Multiple Drug Use
When they are performed, some findings show marijuana, opioids, or both are present in the systems of drivers fatally injured in crashes. These tests show that in 2016, 44 percent of drivers that were fatally injured in these particular crashes were drug-positive. This was up 28 percent from ten years ago. Out of these, 16 percent were opioid-positive, 38 were marijuana-positive, and four percent were positive for both.
Other data showed that 49 percent of drivers who died in crashes that same year and tested positive for alcohol also had drugs in their systems. This leads to the conclusion that driving under the influence of multiple drugs, including alcohol, has become increasingly commonplace. Consuming alcohol while taking prescription and non-prescription drugs can increase the effects of the drugs, further impairing a driver’s ability to navigate the roads safely.
Problems with Drug Testing
Drug testing is not always carried out at fatal crash sites. In fact, half of drivers fatally injured at vehicle crash sites are not tested. This is one reason why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is calling for more research.
Marijuana and opioids affect people differently, so testing methods may not be reliable. The NHTSA stated to Congress last year that it can be challenging to verify if a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Tests to determine the amount of THC in the blood are not always accurate. Their report recommends more investigation into new testing methods, increased public awareness, and stronger law enforcement.
Representatives added that many drivers mistakenly feel that marijuana and opioids do not affect their driving ability. Therefore, those who regularly take prescription opioids may not even realize how it affects their judgment on the road.
Chester County Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Fight for Those Injured in Drugged Driving Accidents
If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we can help. Contact an experienced Chester County car accident lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We successfully represent victims of all types of car accidents and can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 215-569-8488 for a free consultation or contact us online.