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Drugs and opioids are at the root of some fatal car crashes

Drunk driving has been a major factor in car accidents in Indiana and throughout the country. However, a recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Administration and funded by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility revealed the increasing danger of drivers who use marijuana and opioids.

The GHSA found that 44 percent of drivers killed in vehicle accidents tested positive for drugs in 2016. Over half of these drivers had marijuana, opioids or a combination of both in their system. Of these drivers, 38 percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent were positive for opioids and 4 percent tested positive for a combination of marijuana and opioids.

This figure is an increase from ten years earlier when 28 percent of fatally-injured drivers tested positive for drugs. But, the problem may be even greater because many motorists who are arrested, involved in accidents or even killed are not tested for drugs. Moreover, drivers who have drugs in their systems may not be driving impaired.

Alcohol impaired driving is still a serious threat. However, its frequency has dropped over a decade.

In 2006, 41 percent of drivers killed in accidents had alcohol in their system. This dropped to 38 percent in 2016.

The report also uncovered another rapidly-growing problem. Drivers are simultaneously using multiple substances that may impair driving. In 2016, 51 percent of drivers who were killed in accidents and tested positive for drugs had two or more drugs in their system.

A combination of drugs and alcohol also played a role in these crashes. In 2016, 49 percent of fatalities who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for drugs.

Technology, however, has not kept pace with drug-impaired driving. While there are generally-accepted and recognized testing to measure drunk driving, there are no nationally-accepted methods to test drivers for suspected drug impairment. Tests are numerous and unwieldy, and drugs affect drivers differently.

Drivers who are impaired by drug or alcohol also place their passengers and other motorists at a serious risk of death or serious injury. When a person loses a loved one in a car crash caused by an impaired driver, they may want to learn more about any legal options they may have to hold the impaired driver accountable.

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