Drugged driving deaths now higher than drunk driving deaths

For the first time, drugged driving deaths are higher in the United States than drunk driving deaths.

The problem of drugged driving is growing and is now taking more lives on the road than drunk driving. As the Chicago Tribune reports, federal figures from 2015 (the most recent year for which data is available) show that deaths from drugged driving exceeded deaths from drunk driving for the first time ever. The rise in drugged driving accidents has led police to remind motorists that driving while high is extremely dangerous. Cracking down on the problem is difficult, however, since testing for drugged driving is a lot harder than testing for alcohol.

Drugged driving deaths rising

In 2015, tests conducted on drivers who were killed in accidents revealed that 43 percent tested positive for drugs, such as marijuana and prescription drugs. By comparison, 38 percent of deceased drivers who were tested had alcohol in their systems above the legal limit. That makes 2015 the first time when drugged driving deaths exceeded alcohol-related deaths.

It also points to a growing problem about what the public considers to be dangerous driving. While public safety campaigns over the last few decades have effectively gotten the message out about just how dangerous drunk driving is, there is still plenty of misconceptions about the dangers of driving while high. As the Governors Highway Safety Association points out, many drivers wrongly assume that driving while high on marijuana will actually make them safer drivers. That is not true and studies have shown that marijuana increases the chance of a crash happening by 22 to 36 percent.

Better training needed

One problem with drug-impaired driving is that drugs do not metabolize in the body the same way alcohol does. Somebody who does not regularly consume marijuana, for example, may become severely impaired after using it just once, whereas a regular user could consume the same amount and be relatively unaffected.

Instead of focusing on blood tests, many safety groups suggest better training for cops to spot drugged drivers. As WebMD reports, Illinois is one of five states receiving $100,000 in grants from the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility to train police in how to identify and arrest drugged drivers. Additionally, the Governors Highway Safety Association recommends discussing drugged driving in driver education courses and ensuring physicians and pharmacists are educated about the danger of drugged driving from prescription drugs.

Personal injury law

The rise of drugged driving is just another reminder of how dangerous roads and highways can be both in Illinois and across the country. Anybody who has been hurt in an accident, especially if it may have been caused by an impaired or negligent driver, should get in touch with a personal injury attorney today. An experienced attorney can help accident victims file a claim and possibly pursue additional compensation if the crash was caused by another driver's negligence or recklessness.