44% of drivers killed on the country’s roads test positive for drugs. The data from a 2018 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association was based on drivers killed in vehicle accidents during 2016. The report continues:

  • 38% of the dead drivers had alcohol in their blood.
  • 49% of those who tested positive for alcohol also tested positive for drugs.
  • 51% of the drivers who tested positive for drugs tested positive for more than one.

Does this mean a driver who has taken drugs is more dangerous than a driver who has had a drink? Not necessarily.

The report does not state whether the drugs found in the bloodstream were the reason the accidents occurred. It does not consider the quantities found in their bloodstreams. It only looked at fatal crashes; figures from non-fatal accidents could be very different.

Drugs usually stay in the bloodstream longer than alcohol. So if a driver consumed drinks and drugs at the same time, the traces of alcohol would disappear before those of the drugs did.

The most common drugs found in the blood of the deceased drivers in the report were marijuana and opioids. Studies into whether there is an increase in vehicle accidents in states that had legalized marijuana were inconclusive. What is clear is that driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol is dangerous.

If you have a vehicle accident caused by another driver, there could be many causes. Consider hiring legal help to investigate the cause. While the other driver may pass the alcohol breath test, you may have reason to believe drugs impaired their driving.