GHSA analyzes role of marijuana, opioids in fatal car crashes

In 2016, 44 percent of fatally injured drivers with known drug test results had drugs in their system. This is according to a new study from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Drivers in Texas will want to know more about the study and what its implications are.

Of those fatally injured motorists, 38 percent tested positive for pot, 16 percent for opioids and 4 percent for both. Just over half of the drug-positives were found with two or more drugs. In all, 2016 saw an increase in drugged-driving related fatalities. Only 26 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive back in 2006.

While intoxicated driving has slightly declined from 2006 to 2016, the study shows that 49 percent of fatally injured drivers who had alcohol in their bodies also tested positive for drugs. The GHSA emphasizes that alcohol and drug impairment should not be considered separately. Together with Responsibility.org (the organization that funded this study), the GHSA offers programs that train officers on how to detect impairment.

Authors of the study acknowledge several challenges. There are many kinds of drugs to test for, yet there is no national drug-testing standard. In addition, drugs affect different people in different ways, so the presence of drugs cannot be equated with impairment.

When drugs contribute to a motor vehicle accident, those who are not at fault can feel confident that they have the grounds for a personal injury claim. A lawyer could build up a case with the help of investigators, drug experts, photographers and other third parties. Legal counsel may then negotiate for a fair settlement out of court.

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