NHTSA Impaired Driving Study Highlights Trends in Drunk, Drugged Driving (Pt. 2)
February 20, 2015
Resuming NHTSA Impaired Driving Study Highlights Trends in Drunk, Drugged Driving (Pt. 1), here, we will continue to discuss the findings of some recent national impaired driving studies conducted by federal transportation regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Impaired Driving in the U.S.: Findings Regarding Drugged Driving
The NHTSA impaired driving study focused on drugged driving analyzed crash data gathered over a 20-month period. This data reportedly included information from more than 3,000 motorists who had been in traffic accidents, as well as 6,000 motorists who had not been in collisions (as a “control group). Here’s an overview of what this impaired driving study found:
- From 2007 to 2014, the number of motorists on U.S. roads with drugs in their systems increased nearly 4 percent, jumping up from 16.3 percent (in 2007) to about 20 percent (in 2014). Here, it’s important to note that the drugs referred to in this study were illegal drugs, as well as prescription medications, that could impact motorists’ performance behind the wheel.
- Over the past 7 or so years, the number of drivers with marijuana in their systems has just about doubled.
- When motorists have marijuana in their systems, they are more likely to be involved in traffic collisions. While this is likely due, at least in part, to the affects that marijuana has on people’s perception and reaction times, it may also be related to the fact that marijuana users tend to in groups that already have a high risk of traffic accidents (i.e., young men).
While these findings are notable, they are just one step in the NTHSA’s ongoing efforts to curb drugged and impaired driving in the U.S. In fact, NHTSA officials have noted their plans to conduct additional follow up studies in Washington state, where marijuana was recently legalized, as well as a simulator study that will be conducted in conjunction with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind noted about these findings on drugged driving, “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.”
Jeff Michael, NHTSA’s associate administrator for research and program development, expressed similar concerns regarding impaired driving, stating:
Drivers should never get behind the wheel impaired, and we know that marijuana impairs judgment, reaction times and awareness…these findings highlight the importance of research to better understand how marijuana use affects drivers so states and communities can craft the best safety policies.
Beaverton Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney at the Weimar Law Offices
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