According to a new study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than half of drivers in this country killed in car crashes had substances, i.e., alcohol or drugs, in their system at the time of the crashes. The study results have been published in the journal "Addiction".
The most common substance found in deceased drivers was alcohol, followed by marijuana and stimulants.
Although this likely comes as no surprise, the fact is, the numbers keep rising. Alcohol's role in auto accidents and fatalities in auto accidents has been reported on for decades. The role of drugs, including prescriptions drugs, however, has not been investigated thoroughly until recently. And one reason is clear: prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and so are its consequences.
The study utilized data collected by the agency from 14 states. The study also found men and night drivers to be more likely to have substances, including alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or other illicit drugs to show up in toxicology reports conducted after accidents. Roughly 20 percent of fatally injured drivers had been using two or more drugs. Of the over 20,000 accidents involving the death of drivers scrutinized, 57 percent had at least one drug in their system.
Other findings from the study include:
• 60% of men killed had taken drugs or alcohol;
• less than 50% of women killed had taken drugs or alcohol;
• Night and weekend drivers were more likely to test positive for drugs or alcohol;
• Caucasian and African-American drivers were equally as likely to have drugs or alcohol in their systems following a fatal crash;
• Drivers of Asian descent were much less likely to have drugs or alcohol in their system following a fatal crash;
• Native Americans were much more likely to have drugs or alcohol in their system following a fatal crash;
Although the recent study highlights some important findings, researchers of the study could not show which drivers felt or acted impaired, or if the prescription drugs found were abused or used incorrectly. Similarly, the data indicating the exact level or amount of the drugs and alcohol found in deceased drivers' systems may not be always be certain, due to testing constraints.
What is certain is that driving and substances do not mix. And if over half of all fatal accidents now involve drugs or alcohol, all drivers need to be aware and to drive safety and cautiously.
The personal injury lawyers at JONES WARD handle all types of auto accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured, please give us a call. For more information, contact attorney A. Layne Stackhouse at 502.882.6000 or email@example.com.