In recent years, organizations have been shining the spotlight on the dangers of drugged driving. Past studies focused primarily on drunk driving, but with opioid and marijuana use on the rise, the statistics are changing. Alcohol-impaired driving is still a major issue, but it may no longer be the biggest threat to road safety. A 2016 study showed that the number of fatally-injured drivers that tested positive for alcohol decreased three percentage points from 10 years ago, compared to increased drugged driving use.
These numbers have led community leaders to speak out in effort to reduce the number of car wrecks associated with impaired driving. Safety experts opine that the use of alcohol in combination with opioids and marijuana is of great concern. As such, they should be treated as one issue, since drivers often consume both at the same time.
Drug-Impaired Driving Report
A 2016 Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report found that 44 percent of fatally-injured drivers who were tested for drugs showed positive results, and this had increased 28 percent from 2006. Among the 44 percent, 38 percent were positive for marijuana, 16 percent for opioids, and four percent for both.
When combined with alcohol, these drugs can intensify the effects. This is a very real problem for lawmakers and law enforcement, not to mention possible victims and their families. Many drivers do not understand how fatal this combination can be before they get behind the wheel. Safety advocates want the public to be aware that impairment is impairment, regardless of substance.
Problems with Drug Testing
Testing drivers for drugs is a gray area for several reasons. To begin, many drugs do not affect driving habits. For those that do, there are no standardized tests that can directly prove the effect of drugs such as marijuana on driving and crash risks. Although breathalyzers detect blood alcohol levels, there is no tool to gauge marijuana and opioid levels. It is particularly difficult to assess the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, the main component in marijuana, present in a driver when the crash occurs. Signs of impairment can also vary, depending on what was ingested. Prosecutors must rely on eyewitness accounts and expert testimony to prove drugged-driving cases.
Many states have already legalized marijuana, and others will likely follow this path. Adding to the complication is the fact that marijuana can be smoked or eaten, which can produce different effects. Another problem occurs when patients take opioid prescriptions, not realizing that they are impaired.
The struggle to make drivers and lawmakers aware of drugged driving and to develop testing methods is underway, with no clear solutions. More research and testing are being called for to keep pace with these changes and to keep our roads safer for everyone.
Columbia Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Help Victims Involved in Drugged Driving Accidents
Without public awareness and dependable testing methods, the incidences of drugged driving accidents may continue to rise. If you have been involved in a drugged driving crash, the Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. can help. Call us at 803-929-3600 or 866-881-8623 or contact us online for a free consultation.
We represent injured accident victims in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, Newberry County and across South Carolina.