Drugged driving is becoming a serious traffic safety issue in Florida and across the country, indicates a pair of new studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and our law firm’s own analysis of recent Florida motor vehicle accident statistics.
In the one NHTSA study, 20 percent of the drivers who participated in a roadside survey tested positive for at least one drug, marking a 3.7 percent increase from the last survey that was conducted in 2007.
In the other study, NHTSA researchers conducted a comparative risk assessment of drunk and drugged driving and found that marijuana users were 25 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers who did not use the drug.
“The combined message of these two [studies] is that our work to understand and combat drunk driving is paying off, but that we have much to learn about how illegal drugs and prescription medicines affect highway safety – and that developing that knowledge is urgent, because more and more drivers have these drugs in their systems,”
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a released statement.
What Is Drugged Driving?
Drugged driving can be defined as operating a motor vehicle on a public highway while one’s mental and physical faculties are impaired by a drug, including:
Drugged Driving is Steadily Rising in Florida
Statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles show that there are still a significantly higher number of alcohol use-suspected crashes than drug use-suspected crashes in our state.
For instance, between 2010 and 2013 in our state, there were:
In other words, there were roughly seven times more alcohol use-suspected crashes in Florida than those in which drug use was suspected.
However, while the number of alcohol-use suspected crashes in Florida has slightly decreased – from 17,748 in 2010 to 17,107 in 2013 – drug use-suspected crashes have been on a dramatic rise.
Just look at the following drug use-suspected Florida crash statistics:
Basically, between 2010 and 2013, the number of drug use-suspected crashes, injuries and fatalities in Florida nearly quadrupled!
How Can We Combat Drugged Driving in Florida?
The two new NHTSA studies and Florida crash statistics show just how serious of a problem drugged driving is on our roads. To combat this growing threat, we need an effort that involves:
Florida law punishes drugged driving to the same extent as drunk driving. However, we need to give our state highway patrol and local police officers more training and tools that can be used to detect drugged drivers.
The dangers of using drugs of any kind and getting behind the wheel should be stressed in our state’s driver education schools.
Public awareness –
We can certainly conduct public awareness campaigns that reach out to young drivers and warn them about drugged driving. However, we should also direct efforts at older drivers who may be operating vehicles while impaired by one or more prescription drugs.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you should seek help from an experienced attorney. The attorney should know how to thoroughly investigate your case and determine the cause of your crash, including the role that the other driver’s drug or alcohol use may have played.
To learn more, feel free to contact Frank M. Eidson, P.A. You can reach us by phone or through our online form. Our consultations are always free.