Recovering After an Accident with an Impaired Driver
Last year, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), citing federal statistics, issued an update of a comprehensive 2015 report saying that 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, higher than the 37 percent that tested above the legal limit for alcohol.
The report came as 29 states, along with the District of Columbia, moved to legalize medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The report, suggesting that drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk, has other traffic-safety advocates expressing concern that the big picture of impaired driving is not being made clear.
Anyone can be affected
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) expressed concern last year that the report could lead the public to believe the country has turned the corner on drunk driving. There is still much work to do, MADD officials said.
“There is no way you can say drugs have overtaken alcohol as the biggest killer on the highway,” J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer at MADD, told the Washington Post. “The data is not anywhere close to being in a way that would suggest that … We’re doing a lot of good things on drunk driving, but the public needs to understand this problem is not solved.”
In 2015, MADD altered its mission to include the fight against drug-impaired driving.
Drawing on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS), the GHSA urged states to step up efforts to train law enforcement to spot and arrest impaired drivers who have been using marijuana, opioids or other drugs.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is still by far the most common drug-related arrest in the United States. Police make more than 1.4 million drunk driving arrests annually, and they catch only a fraction of offenders.
Driving responsibly can reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that other motorists will do the same. An accident with a drunk driver, whose judgement and reaction time is delayed, can be a traumatic experience. It can result in months, and even years, of recovery.
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