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Research examines frequency of drug impairment in car accidents

Maryland's roads can be treacherous even without driver behavior placing people at risk. When those behaviors, such as intoxicated driving, are factored in, a car accident can happen resulting in injuries and fatalities. One new report has found that drivers who operated their vehicles while on drugs caused more fatalities in 2015 than those who were impaired by alcohol. Even with this information, some experts state that drinking and driving is still a bigger problem than drugged driving.

The drug-related report was released by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. When people who had died in car crashes were tested, 43 percent were found to have had drugs in their system while 37 percent had alcohol in their system. Across the nation, it is illegal for any driver to be impaired when behind the wheel. But there are differences in how these laws are interpreted when it comes to drugs. Testing practices also vary.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration keeps track of more than 400 different types of drugs and how they impact driving. In the tests, marijuana was found in 35 percent of the tests. Even though there is an increasing number of states that have legalized marijuana use for recreational purposes, it is still against the law to drive after having used it. More than 50 percent of those drivers who tested positive were found to have different drugs in their systemsSince there is no field test to determine which drugs a driver may have used prior to climbing behind the wheel, law enforcement can have a difficult time gauging what, exactly, is causing a driver to act impaired.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety disagrees with the assessments in the above-referenced report and still thinks that alcohol is a bigger problem than drugs due to the lack of in-depth information for drug use and driving. It states that only 57 percent of drivers who died in an auto accident received a drug test.

Regardless of the disagreements as to accident studies and what causes these crashes, there is no question that this is a major factor in a great number of accidents. People who have been hurt or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by the negligence of another need to carefully consider pursuing a lawsuit in hopes of recovering compensation. A lawyer experienced in investigating and pursuing claims related to car accidents may be able to help with such a case.

Source: CNN, "'Drugged driving' surpasses drunken driving among drivers killed in crashes, report finds," Robert Jimison, April 28, 2017

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