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GHSA study shows drugged driving increased in fatal crashes in 2016

Impaired driving often includes a mixture of more than one drug and/or alcohol

Posted June 6, 2018

In 2016 drugged driving was connected to 44 percent of crashes in which the driver was fatally injured and drug test results were known, according to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). This is an increase of 28 percent from a decade ago.

The following table outlines the substances found in fatally-injured drivers based on the report:

Drugs Percentage*
Marijuana 38
Opioids 16
Marijuana and opioids 4

*Percentage of those fatally-injured drivers with a known test result who tested positive.

How does this compare to alcohol-impaired driving?

The report indicates that alcohol-impaired driving continues to be a significant threat to public safety. However, the number of fatally-injured drivers found to have alcohol in their system declined slightly over the past 10 years (41 percent in 2006 versus 38 percent in 2016).

GHSA cites the following challenges associated with using the same strategies to counter drunk driving for drugged driving:

  • No nationally-accepted method for testing driver drug impairment;
  • The number of potential drugs that should be included in testing; and
  • Variations of impairment based on drugs and driver.

In addition, many drivers arrested or involved in crashes are not tested for drugs. GHSA also notes that often impaired driving involves the use of more than one controlled substance and/or mixing drugs with alcohol.

More information

The report, “Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States,” was funded by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. View it in its entirety on the GHSA website.

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