Drugged Driving Fatalities Exceed Drunk Driving
Foy years, the national rhetoric focused on the dangers of drunk driving with aggressive campaigns and public support. However, a new danger plagues motorists on the roadway today: drugged motorists. For the first time in the history of the United States, the number of fatalities caused by drugged driving has eclipsed the number for drunk driving fatalities.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Administration and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal car accidents in 2015 tested positive for drugs. Those who tested positive for drugs had marijuana found in their system in one-third of the cases and amphetamines in 9 percent of the drivers. This was in comparison to the 37 percent of drivers who tested above the legal limit for alcohol during the same time period.
This finding is in line with other dangers realized about drugged driving. After Colorado passed its law to legalize recreational marijuana, the state saw the number of drugged driving fatalities jump by 48 percent. Nationally, the rate of drugged driving fatalities increased from 28 percent in 2005 to 43 percent in 2015. This increase coincides with more permissive laws related to the use of marijuana. Medical marijuana is currently legalized in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Decriminalization has occurred in 21 states. Recreational use is permitted in eight states and the District of Columbia.
Despite more states passing laws legalizing marijuana, law enforcement is falling behind on being able to accurately detect when a driver’s intake has impaired him or her. Regular marijuana users in Colorado and Washington largely say that they do not believe that the drug impairs their driving while admitting that alcohol does. Testing for drug use is often much more complicated than it is for testing for alcohol. Additionally, the effect of different drugs may have a very different effect on motorists. Testing for individuals suspected of drugged driving may be more difficult for law enforcement officers who have not been trained in this regard to the extent that they have to detect alcohol impairment. Delays in testing may also cause the drug to metabolize so that the test is a false negative.
Another serious risk is combining drugs and alcohol. When a person consumes two or more substances, the effects can be heightened and even more dangerous. Additionally, more serious drugs are seeing an increase in use. In 2015, more than 33,000 people died because of opioid overdoses. Mixing alcohol with drugs or using a serious drug like opioids or amphetamines is linked with a greatly increased risk of being involved in an accident.
Larson Law Firm’s personal injury attorneys have more than 35 years of experience protecting the rights of injured victims. If you would like to discuss your case with a skilled North Dakota personal injury lawyer, contact us online or call us at 701-484-4878 to schedule a complimentary case evaluation.
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