Tag Archives: drug-impaired driving

I.I.I. Report: Marijuana legalization raises concerns about drugged driving

The “green gold rush” shows no sign of slowing.

Most recently, New Jersey legislators reportedly announced a bill that would permit recreational marijuana. If signed into law, New Jersey would join ten other states and D.C. that currently permit recreational marijuana. More than 30 states and D.C. also permit medical marijuana programs of some kind.

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But as legalization spreads, concerns about driving under the influence of marijuana continue unabated.

Today, the I.I.I. has published a report that examines the current state of the issue.

A rocky road so far: Recreational marijuana and impaired driving” dives into the hazy questions surrounding marijuana impairment: its effects on driving abilities, how traffic safety might be impacted, and how states are grappling with the issue of “stoned driving.” (Download the report here.)

Unfortunately, there are still many unknowns when it comes to stoned driving. Marijuana impairment degrades cognitive and motor skills, of course – but marijuana-impaired driving is an evolving issue with many questions and few concrete answers. Legalization is still relatively recent. Data are still being gathered. How to understand and measure marijuana impairment are still open questions.

Do the rates of marijuana-impaired driving increase following recreational legalization? Answer: probably. Does marijuana-impaired driving increase crash risks? Answer: probably, but we still don’t concretely know to what degree. What about traffic fatalities – do those increase after legalization? There’s evidence that traffic fatalities could increase following legalization, but there is still quite a bit of discussion about this issue.

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There is active research, discussion and debate being conducted to answer these and other questions. As more states legalize recreational marijuana, forthcoming answers will become ever more critical to help best guide public policy and traffic safety initiatives.

To learn more, download the report here.

44% of Drivers Killed in Crashes Test Positive for Drugs, Study Shows

Evidence continues to pour in about the increase in drug use by drivers.

From behind The Wall Street Journal paywall:

Drug tests of car drivers killed in crashes in 2016 found more drivers had marijuana, opioids or other substances in their system than a decade ago, a report shows.

The report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway-safety offices, found that 44% of drivers who died and were tested had positive results for drugs in 2016, up from 28% in 2006.

By contrast, the percentage of fatally injured drivers who were tested fell slightly. In 2016 37.9 percent of all drivers with known test results were alcohol-positive, compared with 41.0 percent a decade earlier.

Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug; 38 percent of those testing positive had marijuana in their system. Sixteen percent tested positive for opioids. Another 4 percent had marijuana and opioids. (The rest tested positive for other drugs.)

The report calls for a series of actions to combat driving while under the influence of opioids and alcohol, including:

  • Adding drug-impaired driving messages to impaired-driving campaigns.
  • Training patrol officers to spot impaired drivers and Drug Recognition Experts (remember there is no commonly accepted breath test for drugs other than alcohol).
  • Monitoring the development of marijuana breath test instruments.

Reminder: Highway Loss Data Institute research shows that states that legalized recreational marijuana sales see a significant increase in accident rates. And here at Triple-I we have presentations discussing the science of driving while high as well as the disconnect between what people know (don’t ride with a high driver) and what they do (too often they say they will).

Update: A webinar discussing the report will be held on June 5 at 1 p.m. EDT. Register at bit.ly/GHSA-DUIDwebinar.