When people in Virginia get behind the wheel, they may be worried about the threat of drunk driving from others on the road. However, recent statistics indicate that drug-impaired driving could present an even greater threat to safety. According to a 2016 report by the Governors Highway Safety Administration, nearly half of all drivers killed in car crashes had drugs in their systems. This marks a distinct increase from the last time this was measured in 2006; in that year, only 28 percent of fatally injured drivers were found to have drugs in their system.
Of the drivers who tested positive for drugs in fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2016, 38 percent were found to have marijuana in their system, 16 percent had evidence of opioids and 4 percent had both according to drug tests. While the number of drivers who are impaired by drugs seems to be on the rise, the opposite is true of drunk driving. In 2016, 41 percent of drivers in fatal crashes were found to be alcohol-impaired while that figure went down to 38 percent in 2016.
In response to these trends, highway safety advocates urged that more action be taken to target drug-impaired driving, similar to the large-scale campaigns against drunk driving. Tactics include heavier law enforcement action as well as public awareness campaigns that successfully shifted attitudes. However, there are many drugs that officials would need to test for. There is also no clear agreement on what amount of drug use causes impaired driving.
The danger of drugged driving affects others on the road who face serious injuries, permanent disabilities and even death in these car crashes. People who have been injured due to someone else’s dangerous or impaired driving might work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages, including lost wages and medical bills.