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Identifying when a driver is under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol can be difficult for police and the number of drugged drivers on American roads is increasing, a new report states from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

There is a serious drug crisis in the country and it is affecting traffic safety, stated Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the nonprofit organization representing state highway safety offices across the United States.

The most recent national data from 2015 shows that drugs were in the systems of 43% of people who died in highway accidents in the US. This is a higher rate than alcohol at 37%.

This is the very first time that drugged driving has been a worse problem than drunk driving.

West Virginia is one state that will get part of the grant funding of $100,000 to be used to increase training to recognize impaired driving. The funds will be used to train law enforcement new skills  to determine who is under the influence of drugs.


Other states that are getting funding are Illinois, Montana, Wisconsin and Washington. Each of the states will use the funding they receive to implement advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement training.

In West Virginia, there are only 30 police officers who have the advanced training to identify drugged driving.

The issue is that there are hundreds of drugs that can cause impairment in drivers. It is difficult to have one standard test to determine what ‘drugged driving’ is, as different drugs have different effects. Alcohol in the blood is relatively simple to measure, by comparison.

Also, some drugs are legal to use in some conditions, and many are available over the counter. It is very difficult for standard police officers to identify drug impairment compared to alcohol impairment.

Some drugs have different effects on different people, and their effects on driving and crash risks are extremely complex.

 Our View

Drugged driving does not get the publicity that drunk driving does. But the dangers are the same. For example, studies show that using marijuana can slow your reaction time and impair judgement and disatance just as drinking alcohol can. 

Drivers who have taken methamphetamine or cocaine can be extremely aggressive and reckless when driving. Some sedatives known as benzodiazepines can make you dizzy and drowsy.

If you are ever hurt in a drunk or drugged driving accident, you should know that you can be compensated for your injuries in a personal injury lawsuit. Or you can file a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one was killed by a drunk or drugged driver. 

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