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Atlanta Drugged Driving: What Are The Risks?

In 2007, the National Roadside Survey , a government study in which drivers were randomly pulled over and tested for drugs, found that about 14 percent of U.S. drivers tested positive for illegal drugs.  Not only was the prevalence of drug use among American drivers shocking, but also the fact that more drivers were using drugs than alcohol (12%).  
 
Alcohol is involved in about 38 percent of fatal crashes; 32 percent of crashes involve a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than .08, the legal limit in Georgia and throughout the United States.  Until recently, there was no data about drug use and fatal crash rates.
 
This month, a paper called "Drug and Alcohol Involvement in Four Types of Fatal Crashes" was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.  The researchers used data collected in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) which is maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  The FARS database collects data on all U.S. traffic deaths. For the study, data was used for 44,000 crashes that occurred in the 20 states that require drug tests for all drivers involved in crashes between 1998 and 2009.
 
What did the researchers find? One quarter of drivers involved in fatal crashes have illegal drugs in their systems.  This means that drug use is in some way correlated with the risk of car crash death.
 
The researchers did not directly say that drugs were to blame for the crashes.  In fact, they pointed out that people who use illegal drugs may be more reckless in general, whether or not they are under the influence of drugs.  In addition, testing for drugs is not straightforward, as traces of certain drugs can linger in the body for weeks after use.  In fact, traces of marijuana can be found in the blood of someone who was in the room with a marijuana user for as long as a month after the event.
 
Despite these complications, the researchers believe there is a solid link between drug use and car crash risk.       They also found that certain types of drug use are more likely to be involved in certain types of crashes.  Drivers using stimulants, including cocaine and amphetamines, were linked to all types of crash fatalities, including speeding, failure to obey other traffic laws, inattention, or forgoing seat belts. On the other hand, marijuana use was only tied to crashes that involved speeding and seat belt non-use. 
 
If you or a loved one been injured in a Georgia crash caused by a driver under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, you may be eligible for monetary compensation. An Atlanta drunk driving injury attorney may be able to help. To discuss your claim, contact the Law Office of Shane Smith at 770-HURT-999 schedule a free legal consultation with an Atlanta drunk driving injury attorney.
 
For more information about Georgia injury claims, download a free copy of our book, 10 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Georgia Wreck Case.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia