The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently published a report that focuses on the increase of drugs in motor vehicle accident fatalities. The GHSA represents state highway safety offices that employ federal grant programs to improve behavioral highway safety.
The report states that 22.3 percent of the victims that were tested showed positive for marijuana in 2016. This could be a result of the recent legalization of marijuana in certain states, which has led to increased recreational and medical usage. Forty-four percent of those tested positive for one or more substances. Surprisingly, this number is higher than the 37.9 percent that tested positive for alcohol. According to the GHSA Director of Government Relations, the liberalization of marijuana laws, increase in prescription drug use, and the opioid crisis have all contributed to these statistics.
Although much has been done to prevent drunk driving, marijuana and other drug users may not realize just how dangerous drugged driving can be. The report should raise much-needed awareness about drugged driving and educate drivers about other kinds of impaired driving.
A Related Study
Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health released a similar study. It concluded that from 1995 to 2015, the percentage of drivers that tested positive for prescription opioids involved in fatal accidents rose 700 percent. In a statement, the professor of Epidemiology at Mailman and principal investigator of the study stated that prescription opioids as pain medications can cause drowsiness and impair cognitive functions.
This data centered around drivers who suffered fatal injuries within an hour of crashes in five states that run toxicology tests on injury fatalities. Twenty-four percent were positive for non-alcohol drugs. Out of those that tested positive for opioids, 30 percent had an elevated blood alcohol concentration, and 67 percent were positive for other drugs.
Recognizing the Problem
The author of the GHSA study believes that the next step is to educate the public. Currently, there are no nationally accepted testing tools or techniques to gauge how many drugs a person has consumed. There are new devices, such as saliva swabs, that are being tested in several states, and some police departments have started training their officers on how to recognize drug-impaired drivers. Marijuana breath tests and oral-fluid devices are also being developed.
The author also recommended electronic search warrants for drug testing and educating the court system about drug-impaired driving. Another idea was to educate pharmacists, which would lead to improved communication between consumers and pharmaceutical companies. He also advocated for a public awareness program about the effects that drugs have on the body.
The Columbia University study recommended that more data and research is needed about the relationships between driver opioid use and traffic accidents. It calls for better analysis, including how specific types and doses impact different drivers.
Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Fight for Victims of Drugged and Drunk Driving Accidents
If you have been involved in a drugged or drunk driving accident, contact a Pennsylvania car accident lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Our highly experienced team will fight for your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve. Call 610-565-3701 today to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. With offices located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we work with clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, and across the Philadelphia metropolitan area.