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Drugged driving more fatal than drunk driving, report says

28 April 2017

"Public awareness of the drugged driving issue is critical to finding a solution", said AAA Spokesperson, Cindy Antrican. Of all drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for drugs, 36.5 percent had used marijuana, followed by amphetamines at 9.3 percent, the study said.

Traffic fatalities are also on the rise, which has been attributed to an improved economy and more distracted and drugged driving.

In the most recent national data available, which is from 2015, the Association reported drugs were present in the systems of 43 percent of people killed in USA highway accidents, a rate higher than alcohol at 37 percent.

James Hedlund, a private consultant from Ithaca, N.Y., updated a study he did in 2014 and found that in 2015, for the first time, more drivers who were tested after fatal crashes had drugs in their system (41.7 percent) than had alcohol (37.3 percent).

Driving under the influence of legal and illegal drugs is causing the same concern for motorists today that drunken driving caused 40 years ago and should generate the same response.

"Officers need to know more than they do for alcohol how to suspect drug impairment, and know that it can exhibit itself in different ways", Hedlund said in an interview. There were 18,493 crashes involving drugs from 2006 to 2015, according to traffic crash reports provided by the Michigan State Police.

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"Alcohol is really simple because there is an objective test that shows a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 ... is too high to drive", Mr. Hedlund said.

"There's not a quick and easy test to determine impairment by drugs", said Adkins, a Fayette County native, on Wednesday's "Talkline".

On the operators' side, many drivers are ignorant about how drugs can impair their driving, and some may think they drive better while using marijuana, which is not true. 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. Another kind of drug was found in 26 percent of tested driver fatalities.

Also, there is no valid roadside device police can use to test for marijuana and other drugs the way they use breathalyzers to test for alcohol. The report recommends that states test for drugs all fatally injured drivers and people arrested for driving under the influence to get better information on how big the problem is.

"If you are using a substance that might impair you, you shouldn't drive", Hedlund said.

Drugged driving more fatal than drunk driving, report says