Over Half of Drug-Tested Drivers in Fatal Crashes Had Marijuana or Opiates in System

Every car accident is a tragedy, especially when the accident results in severe injuries or death. Many of these crashes occur because of situations that could have been avoided, such as distracted driving or speeding. However, new research has shown that one of the most common causes of deadly car crashes could be driver drug use. Drug use impairs drivers’ ability to operate vehicles safely, which raises the risk of deadly accidents.

About the Research

Recent research evaluated the presence of drugs in the systems of drivers who were killed in a highway crash and tested for drugs during autopsy. This study looked for marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two types of drugs. The study found that nearly two-thirds of these drivers had at least one type of drug in their system at the time of the crash. Other studies have shown alarming results. For example, a study conducted in 2006 showed that more than one in four drivers who were tested for drugs after a crash had drugs in their system. By 2016, the proportion of drivers with positive drug tests had increased to more than 40 percent.

Problems with the Study

Some have questioned the validity of the study results discussed here, for several reasons. One argument relates to the tests used to detect THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana. THC can remain in an individual’s system for a long time after consumption of the drug, so drivers who tested positive for THC were not necessarily impaired at the time of the crash. In addition, individual tolerances to THC vary considerably. Another argument relates to the lack of adequate drug testing on deceased drivers in many states. While some states conduct drug tests on most fatally injured drivers following car crashes, other states conduct these tests on as few as 2 percent of drivers who are killed in accidents.

Implications of Research

In spite of the questions about the accuracy of this research, the results still raise a number of concerns for drivers and passengers everywhere, as well as lawmakers. As marijuana becomes a legal drug in more states, it is likely that usage of marijuana will increase among drivers. If this drug impairs drivers’ abilities to operate their vehicles effectively, it is likely that the incidence of accidents will increase. The change in drug test results from 2006 to 2016 also sheds light on an increase in drivers’ usage of drugs other than marijuana, as well. It’s no secret that drivers who are intoxicated or high are more likely to cause accidents. Drugs may affect a driver’s ability to maintain attention on the road, recognize hazards, react to changing situations and make good decisions. If drug use among drivers continues to increase, it is likely that many states will alter their laws in response.

Justice for Car Crash Victims

Impaired drivers often injure other drivers or passengers when they choose to get behind the wheel with drugs in their system. If you have been injured in a crash caused by an impaired driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, lost ability to work, future medical expenses, suffering and more. Please contact Billy Johnson today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your legal options.

Attorney Billy Johnson

William “Billy” Johnson grew up in the Dorton area of Pike County, Kentucky, and early on decided to stay in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Like many others in Eastern Kentucky, Billy’s dad worked as a coal miner, a hard job but one that taught his son how to meet challenges head on and persevere. Attorney Billy Johnson has years of experience helping injured clients with claims such as car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, wrongful deaths, work injuries, and more. [ Attorney Bio ]

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