Drug-Driving Cases Equal to Drunk-Driving: Report

Researchers through a new report have suggested that drivers are as likely to be high on pots or pills or other drugs as dunked on alcohol. Researchers have suggested that the states need to take some major steps to keep an eye on such drivers and control drugged-driving.

The report, 'Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide For What States Can Do', has unveiled a data according to which there has been steady increase in driving under the influence of drugs, even as drunken-driving rates continue to fall.

Author of the report, James Hedlund, a retired executive with the federal National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, said in a statement that he do not think that driving has received nearly the attention as the drunk driving has received.

The report issued Wednesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, used most recent available data from fatal crashes. It revealed that nearly 40% if the victims who were tested during the study had drugs in their system, with about one-third testing positive for marijuana.

He cautioned that the data also has some limitations, like it has no distinction between THC, the marijuana component that causes impairment. "You certainly could not say unambiguously that marijuana increases crash risk. The only thing you can say with confidence is that in laboratory experiments, it affects a lot of things that are related to driving", he said.

Marijuana now is legal for recreational use in four states and for medical use in 23, and more states are moving toward legalization. But if states are opting for legalization they should make sure that their laws on impaired driving are appropriate and police officers are trained enough to recognize impaired driving beyond drunken driving, suggests report.

"I don't think drugged driving has received nearly the attention that drunk driving has received," said the author, James Hedlund, a retired executive with the federal National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration who has studied and written extensively on highway safety.

"Those things can be just as dangerous as alcoholic driving," he said.

United States