Most of us already understand the dangers of driving under the influence of illegal drugs and alcohol. But now, a new study reminds drivers that legality doesn’t necessarily equal safety. Even prescription drugs can impair performance behind the wheel – and medical marijuana is no exception to the rule.
New data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals a surprising rise in wrongful deaths caused by drivers under the influence of drugs, most notably marijuana. The reports show that drug-related car accident fatalities increased by a startling 55 percent from 1999 to 2009, a statistic that indicates the need for increased ‘drugged driving’ awareness and prevention programs.
Law enforcement officials blame medical marijuana for increase in drug-related car accidents
The data revealed by the NHTSA survey is alarming; but law enforcement officials believe there is a simple explanation behind the spike in ‘drugged driving’ and the resulting fatality increase – medical marijuana.
Law enforcement officials argue that drug-related car accidents are more common in states where medical marijuana use is legal. California serves as a prime example: according to the NHTSA report, marijuana-impaired drivers have been responsible for nearly 1,000 road fatalities throughout the state each year.
Neither California nor most of the other 16 states in which individuals are allowed to possess medical marijuana have adopted laws regulating the level of marijuana allowed in a driver’s system. Why? According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, scientists have yet to develop an accurate method to measure drug levels in marijuana users – a fact that has thus far kept lawmakers from introducing legislation restricting ‘drugged driving.’
Study sparks nation-wide review of impaired driving policies
Together with the NHTSA, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute of Drug Abuse have embarked on a nationwide campaign to address the issue of ‘drugged driving.’
A push for harsher laws and increased surveillance efforts will help catch drugged drivers before they do harm to themselves or others, while public education initiatives will teach the public that driving under the influence is dangerous and potentially deadly – regardless of the legality of the drug.
Do your part to prevent impaired driving accidents
Drug and alcohol related accidents are 100 percent preventable – but as responsible drivers, it’s up to us to make smart choices and keep the roads safe. Help prevent personal injury and DUI accidents by following a few simple guidelines:
- Never drink and drive or ride in a vehicle with anyone who you suspect is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Report drunk drivers if you can do so safely and always call 911 in the event of an auto accident.
- Prepay your taxi ride before going to any event where you might consume alcohol or prescription cannabis.
- Teach children to call for a ride if they suspect friends have been using alcohol or drugs.
- If you plan to drink or use drugs – don’t drive. Enlist the help of a designated driver or join a safe ride program to drive you home safely.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a DUI-related car accident, call our San Diego personal injury attorneys right now at 1-800-655-6585 for a free and private legal consultation.
About the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC
Michael Pines, founder, is an advocate against drunk driving and has helped those injured in DUI-related car accidents seek fair recovery. For a free legal evaluation with absolutely no out-of-pocket costs, call 1-800-655-6585. An experienced San Diego personal injury attorney will be in touch to discuss your claim immediately.