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Study Shows Rise of Drug Use by Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes

Nearly one in five drivers that die in fatal auto accidents has detectable drugs in their system, according to data released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This number shows a significant increase in the drug use of motorists involved in fatal accidents; the figure was 13 percent in 2005 but has risen each year since – now reaching 18 percent.

The study’s findings were based on drug tests of deceased drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents. The substances tested for ranged from over-the-counter medicines like antihistamines, to prescription medication such as oxycodone or codeine, and illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine or meth.

Although the study was not able to conclude whether the drivers were impaired (under the influence of the drugs) at the time of the deadly accidents, it is reasonable to assume that more motorists today are driving under the influence of drugs than five years ago.

The Dangers of Drivers on Drugs

The NHTSA’s study incorporated a variety of drug types; these various substances have varying effects on a person’s ability to drive. However, there are some common effects that many of these drugs possess:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Slower reaction time
  • Impaired coordination
  • Impaired vision
  • Decreased focus on driving or distracted driving

The Consequences of Drugged Drivers

Impaired drivers cause thousands of accidents each year. Missouri motorists and pedestrians may be exposed to dangerous drivers under the influence marijuana, crack cocaine or meth; perhaps equally threatening are those under the influence of medications such as OxyContin, Ambien or Vicodin.

Whether legal or not, when drivers get behind the wheel while impaired by drugs they are putting themselves and other people at risk. These drugged drivers are responsible for the death, injury or property damage they cause.