Over Half of Auto Crash Victims Had Substance in System
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that over half of people injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions in the United States had drugs or alcohol in their system. The study found that marijuana was most prevalent, followed by alcohol, in 54 percent of traffic accident victims.
Concerns of Multiple Substances
According to NHTSA, the study found about 20 percent of these drivers also had blood-alcohol levels of 0.08 percent or higher. NHTSA officials said they are concerned these drivers tested positive for multiple substances as they can enhance the impairing effects of each drug.
Testing Locations in the U.S.
The study took place at four medical examiners’ offices and seven trauma centers from September 2019 to July 2021 at the following locations:
- Baltimore, Massachusetts
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Iowa City, Iowa
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Miami, Florida
- Sacramento, California
- Worcester, Massachusetts
Findings of the Study
The study was set up to measure the prevalence of alcohol and drug use. It took blood samples from 7,279 participants and found that:
- 25.1 percent tested positive for THC
- 23.1 percent tested positive for alcohol
- 10.8 percent tested positive for stimulants
- 9.3 percent tested positive for opioids
Testings also found that over half of injured pedestrians and nearly 44 percent of wounded bicyclists had a drug in their system.
Researchers said these stats don’t wholly show drug use on roads nationwide because the medical centers selected for testing don’t depict the whole country. Although the results cannot be used to gauge drug use on the roadways, researchers said the high number of occupants with drugs in their systems is concerning.
Timing of the Study
The analysis was produced during a critical time of the year as NHTSA began its annual holiday season campaign against impaired driving. Motor vehicle deaths have increased significantly since the pandemic, and more states are legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
Researchers said they would likely use the findings as a baseline to study the issue further. NHTSA is preparing a national survey to measure drug and alcohol use on the roads. The previous study was done in 2013 and 2014.
How Drug Use Affects the Driver
The effects of a drug on a motorist depend on what type it is and how it affects the brain. Many substances, such as alcohol, over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs, can impair driving.
- Marijuana and alcohol affect the driver’s coordination, slows their reaction time, and impair their sense of distance and time.
- Drivers under the influence of cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive or reckless on the road.
- Having two or more drugs in your system can escalate the impairing effects of each drug consumed.
- Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and other side effects.
Driving drunk or impaired by any substance is illegal in all 50 states and Washington D.C. Police are trained to observe motorists’ driving behavior to identify impaired driving. Even in states where recreational marijuana is legal, it is still against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana. Those who continue to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol pose a significant danger to themselves, their passengers, and others on the road.
Watch the YouTube video below from Medscape to learn how much marijuana impairs your driving ability.
Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Sacramento. If a negligent driver caused your accident injuries, you might be entitled to claim compensation for your damages. Call our legal team at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. You can also get in touch through our online contact page.
See the types of personal injury cases we have handled for our clients on our Verdicts and Settlements page.
Photo by Elsa Olofsson on Unsplash
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