Drugged Driving On the Rise While Drunken Driving Decreases
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released a report indicating drivers may be moving away from drunken driving but toward another disturbing trend: driving under the influence of drugs like marijuana and other illicit substances.
According to the report, the number of drivers testing positive for alcohol in their blood is down nearly 33 percent since 2007, and more than 75 percent since the NHTSA began compiling such information in 1973. However, the upturn in drivers testing positive for substances like marijuana and other drugs that could affect safety is unsettling.
The latest survey (2013-2014) revealed that 22 percent of drivers showed the presence of a drug in their systems, which could include marijuana, over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs. This data comes from 40 years of anonymous surveys conducted on a national scale with the drivers participation.
Head of the NHTSA Mark Rosekind attributed the lower drunken driving numbers to anti-DUI campaigns, but says there is still work to be done. There is no victory as long as a single American dies in an alcohol-related crash, Rosekind said.
According to the report, about 8 percent of drivers showed some level of alcohol in their system during weekend evening hours, and 1.5 percent were found to have had a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08, or the legal limit in most states.
At the same time, more than 15 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one illegal drug, up from 12 percent in 2007. The number of drivers with marijuana in their systems grew by nearly 50 percent over the same period of time, 8.6 percent in 2007 to 12.6 percent in 2014.
Another survey, the first of its kind, took a look at the comparative risk between driving while drunk and driving while under the influence of marijuana. It examined 3,000 drivers that had been involved in crashes in Virginia Beach, VA. and compared their crash statistics with 6,000 drivers who had not been involved in accidents. The study took place over a 20-week period.
Researchers found that the drivers in this study who used marijuana were at a higher risk of being involved in accidents than those under the influence of alcohol, but this may be because the marijuana group was comprised of mostly young men, a demographic more likely to be involved in accidents anyway.
As more data becomes available, we will continue to report on the findings of similar studies. The personal injury lawyers at Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice believe that drivers who take the wheel while under the influence of any substance need to be held accountable for their actions.
If you were harmed by a drunk or drugged driver, contact a Milwaukee auto accident lawyer at our firm for help.