Drugged driving kills more motorists than alcohol


Jim Hedlund, a former NHTSA official who wrote the report, told Reuters that many drivers don't have a full appreciation of the affects of drug use on driving ability and reaction time.

The challenge to police in attempting to enforce laws against drug-using drivers is compounded because many officers lack training to identify those under the influence of drugs, and delays in testing may allow the drug to metabolize so the results do not accurately measure the concentration in the driver's system at the time of the incident.

Researchers used the most recent USA state data available from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Drugged driving has surpassed drunk driving as a highway safety issue as more states legalize marijuana and record numbers of people die from drug overdoses.

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Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all 50 states. "This is especially significant when you consider the number of years it took to get the public to fully understand the dangers posed by drinking and driving".

In 2013, alcohol- and drug-related traffic fatalities were at about 40 percent, with alcohol slightly higher, Hedlund said in a telephone interview. That could created a sampling error if those tested were more likely than other fatalities to have drugs present in their system.

The report acknowledges some of the difficulties with doing blood tests for marijuana. Of those, 37 percent had a blood alcohol level of at least.005, which is less than one drink for most people.

Tests were conducted on people who died as a result of a vehicle crash and the results may surprise you.

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Fortunately, there are additional ways to evaluate impairment, the report said. Responsibity.org, the website for the alcohol responsibility group, is providing $100,000 in grants this year to IL and four other states to train officers.

There are several different state laws that govern drug use while driving.

Jefferson County Sheriff Deputy Kevin Schwindt tests a driver, whose face is illuminated by police auto lights, to see if he is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, at a mobile Driving Under the Influence (DUI) checkpoint in Golden, Colorado, U.S. on April 12, 2008.

And here's the rub: Drugged driving, whether the motorist is high on marijuana or opiods, is hard to confirm because there are no roadside tests as there is for drunk driving detection. Others may not believe drugs impair how they drive.

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