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Impaired Driving Reports Deliver Mixed Results
Results of two separate studies on impaired driving deliver mixed results. On the positive side, drunk driving rates have declined in the United States. Unfortunately, drugged driving is on the rise.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, conducted every five years since 1973, the number of drivers caught with alcohol in their system has dropped by 30 percent since 2007, and by 80 percent since the time of the initial study. Yet, that same survey revealed a troublesome increase in the number of drivers caught using marijuana or other illegal drugs while behind the wheel. At highest risk are those who drive at nighttime during the weekends. The number of these drivers busted with evidence of drugs in their systems rose from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2014. When considering marijuana only, use by drivers grew by 50 percent.
A second study focused on marijuana use by drivers revealed that users are significantly more likely to be involved in auto accidents, not only because of the drug's mind-altering qualities, but also because the most typical users are young men, a group already at highest risk of impaired driving accidents.
"While there is no victory as long as a single American dies in an alcohol-related crash, a one-third reduction in alcohol use over just seven years shows how a focused effort and cooperation among the federal government, states and communities, law enforcement, safety advocates and industry can make an enormous difference," NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said. "At the same time, the latest Roadside Survey raises significant questions about drug use and highway safety. The rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes."
Despite the improvement, NHTSA statistics show that 10,076 people died in drunk driving accidents in 2013 - a figure that represents 31 percent of all traffic deaths that year. And in 2009, 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illicit, prescription or over-the-counter drug.
There's no disputing the fact that drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol or drugs place everyone on the roadways at risk. If you or someone you love are injured in a drunk or drugged driving accident, contact Orlando's Todd E. Copeland & Associates at 407-999-8995.