Has drugged driving become more dangerous than drunk driving?
This article looks at the controversy over whether drugged driving is more dangerous than drunk driving.
A number of different events in recent years, from ongoing efforts at legalizing marijuana to the opioid epidemic, have thrown a spotlight on the issue of drugged driving. In fact, a recent study suggested that drugged driving deaths had surpassed drunk driving deaths for the first time ever, according to NBC News. While such conclusions are startling and certainly point to a growing problem with drugged driving, they also risk minimizing the continued risk drunk driving plays. Below is a look at how prevalent drugged driving is in auto accidents and the debate surrounding the danger it poses to public safety when compared to drunk driving.
How quickly has drugged driving grown?
One study from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibly concluded that in 2015 the percentage of drivers who were killed in car crashes and who tested positive for drugs that could cause impairment was 43 percent. That was significantly higher than the 37 percent of deceased drivers who tested positive for alcohol alone.
Furthermore, another study by Columbia University researchers found that prescription narcotics are far more common in drivers killed in accidents today than they were in the late 1990s. That study found that while just over one percent of women killed in accidents tested positive for prescription narcotics in the late 1990s, that figure rose to over seven percent between 2010 and 2015. For men, the figure went from less than one percent to more than five percent.
Which is more dangerous?
Studies such as these certainly show that drugged driving is a growing problem that needs to be addressed effectively. Indeed, the California Highway Patrol has committed to training all of its officers in how to detect drugged driving by the end of 2017. However, the question of whether drugged driving is more dangerous than drunk driving remains a controversial one.
That’s because drugs and alcohol behave differently in the human body. In fact, just because more deceased drivers are testing positive for drugs doesn’t mean that they were actually impaired by drugs at the time of their accidents. Some drugs, including marijuana, can remain in the body for days and even weeks after they were first consumed. Such facts are not to suggest that drugged driving is somehow not a threat (because it is), but rather that one should not lose sight of the fact that drunk driving also remains incredibly dangerous and should not be underestimated.
Personal injury law
For those who have been hurt in a car crash, it is important to turn to somebody for help as soon as possible, such as a personal injury attorney. While a personal injury attorney will never be able to undo the pain and suffering that a crash has caused, they can help accident victims pursue whatever compensation they may be entitled to.