Substance Abuse Causes More Than Half of Highway Deaths

Substance Abuse Car CrashA recent study has indicated some shocking news; over 50% of U.S. drivers killed in car accidents had drugs or alcohol in their system at the time of the crash. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was gathered using 14 different US states and the results indicated that males and those that drive at night were the most likely to have alcohol, marijuana or other illicit or prescription drugs show up on a toxicology screen after the accident.

From 2005-2009 there were 20,150 fatally injured drivers and 57% tested positive for at least one drug but some tested even positive for multiple drugs or alcohol. Alcohol showed up most often followed by marijuana and stimulants, which include Adderall and amphetamines.

Substance Abuse Affects Everyone

When comparing gender, 60% of males killed while driving had drugs or alcohol in their system, compared to less than half of women. Night and weekend drivers were also more likely to test positive for drugs and/or alcohol than those who drove in the day or not on a weekend. Race and ethnicity did play a contributing role. African American and Caucasians were equally likely to test positive after a fatal accident. Asians were much less likely to have drugs or alcohol in their system but Native Americans were much more likely, according to findings used for this study.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2010 there were more than 10,000 or one third of the traffic fatalities that involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08 grams per deciliter. But, there are still a lot of unanswered questions that have to be considered by further studies.

Was It Alcohol or Drugs? There Needs to Be Better Tests

One thing that has to be considered is that if a driver tests positive for marijuana, when did he last partake in it? Was it a cause in the accident or was it smoked even weeks or days before? Alcohol can be directly related to the cause but the relationship of drugs in the body to the behavior of the driver is less direct and clear, according to Reuters Health. Prescription drugs of abuse leave even more room for questions in their relationship to a fatal car crash.

More than half is a pretty hefty number of automobile crashes that could have possibly been avoided. Drugs and alcohol have already taking out enough people without having to fuel the fire of behind the wheel too.

Mike Loverde

With firsthand experience with addiction, Mike Loverde is now a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), as accredited by the Association of Intervention Specialists and the Pennsylvania Certification Board. He founded Family First Intervention in 2008 and has since helped hundreds of families find intervention and addiction rehabilitation solutions.

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