Because of a lack of good roadside testing methods and the varying half-lives of different drugs, obtaining accurate statistical information about just how many drugged driving accidents occur annually in the U.S., is difficult.
However, approximately 44 percent of all drivers fatally injured in U.S. accidents in 2016, tested positive for drugs, and half of those for more than one type of drug. So by most reasonable estimates, the problem is an extensive one.
Drugged driving is illegal and can result in serious and often fatal car accidents.
Drugs reduce your reaction time, impair your judgement, and make it difficult to drive safely.
Just like alcohol, driving impaired is dangerous and puts the driver, passenger, and others at risk for sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries.
The effects drugs have on driving depends largely on several factors, including:
- Type of drug consumed,
- Amount or quantity of drug consumed,
- Other drugs or alcohol consumed at the same time,
- How long it has been since drug was consumed.
Marijuana and Drugged Driving
Marijuana is the most commonly found drug present in the blood of accident victims.
Marijuana has been shown to reduce reaction times and impair judgment of time and distance.
Drivers who use this drug may weave and cross lanes more readily, fail to stop at a stoplight in time, or run off of the road.
Studies have shown that drivers with THC in their blood were roughly twice as likely to be responsible for a deadly accident than drivers who have not used drugs.
There is a rise of individuals using and abusing prescription drugs, such as pain killers.
Prescription drug use can cause dizziness and drowsiness behind the wheel, making it difficult to react appropriately when driving and increasing the likelihood of falling asleep behind the wheel.
In 2009, an NHTSA study found that 18% of drivers that were killed in crashes tested positive for at least one drug. A 2010 study found that of those deadly crashes – 47% had used a prescription drug – most commonly a pain killer.
Cocaine and methamphetamine use and driving should never mix.
Individuals who drive while under the influence of cocaine and/or meth are more likely to engage in road rage, aggressive driving, and reckless behavior.
10% of drivers involved in fatal crashes that tested positive for drugs – had used cocaine.
How Common is Drugged Driving?
Unfortunately, drugged driving is more common than you think. A 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 11.8 million people drove under the influence of illegal drugs in the last year alone.
They also found that men were more likely to drive under the influence of drugs than women were and that younger drivers aged 18 to 25 were more likely to drive drugged than older adults.