According to a new study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more drivers are driving while under the influence of drugs both illegal and legal. Officials say the release of the information is meant to publicize the issue and get citizens to start thinking about driving under the influence of drugs.
A driver can receive a DUI for alcohol consumption or the use of drugs whether legal or illegal if the substance legally impairs their ability to drive. The recent study shows that there is an increasing amount of drivers who are killed in car accidents and have tested positive for prescription and illegal drug use. Over the last year almost 4,000 drivers who died from car accidents tested positive for a substance. From 2005 to 2009 the amount of drug use by drivers who died in accidents increased by five percent. Researchers tested for a variety of legal and illegal drugs including prescription medications, marijuana, depressants, narcotics, stimulants, hallucinogens, inhalants and steroids.
Although the study shows that drug use among drivers is on the rise, the numbers used by the study are incomplete. Last year nearly 22,000 drivers were killed in automobile accidents but only 63 percent of the drivers that were killed were tested for the presence of drugs in their system. Researchers also say that the presence of drug use does not necessarily mean drivers were impaired or that drug use was the cause of the accident.
Advocates say the sooner the issue is acknowledged the sooner communities can help solve the problem. The president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said that drivers should be encouraged to take the same steps against driving under the influence of drugs as they do against alcohol.
Source: The Dallas Morning News, “National Study Finds that More Drivers Killed in Accidents have taken Drugs,” Jim Landers, 12/1/10