What does motor vehicle crash data say about drugged driving?

Alabama drivers may be aware of the threat to their personal safety posed by drunk drivers, but a recent article warns of a new menace on the state’s roads and highways.

Specifically, driving under the influence of drugs may be contributing to a rising number of personal injuries or wrongful deaths. Between 2007 and 2013, the number of drivers under the influence of illegal drugs and/or marijuana increased from 12.4 to 15 percent. The data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which conducted voluntary roadside surveys between 2007 and 2013 that included blood and saliva samples. 

Yet even legal substances might contribute to negligent driving. Additional data from crash deaths found that around 38 percent tested positive for potentially impairing drugs, whether legal or illegal. Such substances might include marijuana, prescription opioid pain medications, and even common amphetamines like nasal decongestants. Notably, that number mirrors the percentage of individuals in fatal crashes who had alcohol in their systems. 

Safe driving requires a driver’s constant focus on the road before him or her. Distraction or drug-related impairment behind the wheel is potentially a breach of a driver’s duty of care. For example, drugged driving arising from the use of an illegal substance may double a driver’s crash risk. Drugs used in combination may also create a dangerous effect, such as combining marijuana with alcohol. Studies also show that even amphetamines might influence a driver to ignore the road or speed. If a drugged driver has injured you, a personal injury lawyer can help you prepare evidence that will persuasively illustrate that negligence to a jury, utilizing the  findings in such studies.

Source: CNN, “Driving while drugged now just as deadly as drunk driving,” Carina Storrs, Oct. 1, 2015

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