Washington drivers get the facts about drugged driving

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health declares nearly 10 million drivers in 2013 aged 12 and older admitted to driving while impaired by illegal drugs. This figure translates to about 3.8 percent of the population, and in the same year, about 11 percent, or 28.7 million drivers, confessed to driving under the influence of alcohol. While the numbers have dropped over recent years, many drivers test positive for both drugs and alcohol after causing motor vehicle accidents.

The NSDUH survey also showed that the highest risk group for impaired driving is those aged 18 to 25. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 showed that 18 percent of the drivers across all age groups who died in motor vehicle accidents that year tested positive for at least one type of drug.

Drugged driving, whether the drugs are prescription medications or illegal substances like marijuana or cocaine, can impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle because reaction times and motor skills are easily affected by these substances. Many prescription drugs, including those used for pain relief and anxiety, come with specific warnings against operating machinery or motor vehicles. Other studies have determined that 4 to 14 percent of drivers who suffered injuries or death in auto accidents tested positive for marijuana use.

When auto injuries occur because of an impaired driver, a victim may want to seek the help of a personal injury attorney. It may be possible to receive compensation for the damages such as medical expenses or lost wages incurred because of an injury accident. An attorney might represent an accident victim in a civil lawsuit or help him or her to negotiate insurance company settlements.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse , “DrugFacts: Drugged Driving“, December 30, 2014