Reports claim that drunk driving is rarer today than it was in the 1980s, but more people are driving while on drugs which prompts law makers to debate on limitations.
- Over 5,000 drivers per year test positive for drugs after a fatal car accident
- The numbers for drunk driving (reported as 1 in 80 in 1983) have improved
- Authorities are now concerned with the rise of drugged driving, found in 40% of lethal accidents
By comparing reports from 2005 to 2013, authorities have found that more drivers who have unfortunately perished in a car crash have tested positive for drugs. They created a widely varied panel though, including marijuana and illegal substances, but also over-the-counter or prescription drugs.
There have been studies to suggest that the prescribing of painkillers, who are known to have dangerous effects when abused, have been on the rise in the past couple of years.
The study suggested that drugged driving has seen a increase in the past eight years, from 28% to 40%. Authorities have blamed it on the ease of acquiring prescription drugs and the legalizing of marijuana in nearly half the states across the country. According to author of the study, James Hedlund, drugged driving has not received nearly enough attention.
The problem seems to root in the fact that there have been numerous campaigns, warnings and awareness against drunk driving. Drugs, however, have not received the same attention.
It’s much more difficult to collect data on marijuana use, due to the different strains and various ways it can take effect among people.
The debate has intensified on what sort of limitations or means of measurements should be instated. Alcohol abuse while driving can be easily tested, and has a general 0.08 limit in most states. However, the high number of drug types that can cause impairment make it near impossible to provide quick results, as well as measuring the content in the driver’s system.
According to the study from National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, “there is evidence that marijuana use impairs psychomotor skills, divided attention, lane tracking and cognitive functions”, but it’s still challenging to detect how much it actually contributes to accidents.
It does not help that some drivers have claimed to actually drive better while under the influence of THC.
There is also the issue that testing positive for marijuana does not mean that the driver was high at the moment of the accident. It has been long noticed and known that THC can remain in your system even days later.
As stated by Jonathan Adkins from Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), authorities are now looking to federal government to take a role in the problem of drugged driving. They recommend better public education, awareness campaigns, and guidance on the best ways to prevent car accidents due to drug use.
These prevention measures might also include clearer laws, as some states report absolutely no tolerance for drugged driving, while others are more lenient to the matter.
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