Researchers with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration just wrapped two separate studies on impaired driving and the results are mixed. While drunk driving rates have declined in the United States, drugged driving is on the rise.
First, there's the NHTSA's Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, conducted every five years since 1973. The latest found that the number of drivers caught with alcohol in their system has dropped by 30 percent since 2007, and by 80 percent since the time of the initial study. That's the good news. Now the bad - That same survey revealed a huge increase in the number of drivers caught using marijuana or other illegal drugs while behind the wheel. Nighttime weekend drivers are the biggest offenders. The number of these drivers with evidence of drugs in their system rose from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2014. And the number of drivers with marijuana in their systems grew by a whopping 50 percent.
That brings us to the second study. Focused on marijuana use by drivers, this one showed that pot users are significantly more likely to be involved in auto accidents, not only because of the drug's mind-altering factor, but also because users typically are young men, a group already at highest risk of impaired driving accidents.
"America made drunk driving a national issue and while there is no victory as long as a single American dies in an alcohol-related crash, a one-third reduction in alcohol use over just seven years shows how a focused effort and cooperation among the federal government, states and communities, law enforcement, safety advocates and industry can make an enormous difference," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. "At the same time, the latest Roadside Survey raises significant questions about drug use and highway safety. The rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to saving lives and reducing crashes."
We here at E3 Spark Plugs urge everyone to be safe behind the wheel.