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Driver Fatalities in 2009: 18 percent had Drugs in System

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released new data today showing that nearly one in five drivers who died in motor vehicle accidents last year tested positive for drugs. The data shows an increase over 2005, where data showed that 13 percent of drivers who died in car accidents had detectable amounts of drugs in their system.

This data shows a startling increase in drug use by motorists. While the study could not measure whether the driver was under the influence of drugs during the time of the fatal accident, the numbers allude to a recent increase in impaired driving.

The data included prescription medication, over-the-counter meds and illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and meth. The categories of drugs that were tested for included: narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabinoids, phencyclidines (PCPs), anabolic steroids and inhalants.

Impaired Driver Liability in Michigan

When someone decides to drive while impaired by drugs, whether prescribed or illegal, they assume liability for victims' resulting injuries or wrongful death.

Even if the driver is not under the direct influence of drugs at the time of the accident, the drug use could still be partially responsible for the accident. If a truck driver has been using meth or another stimulant to stay awake and drive through the night, the drug use may still be responsible for the trucker's sleep-deprived collision occurring the next day.

Another example would be where someone smokes marijuana, but waits to drive until they no longer feel "high." If the cannabis causes the motorist to feel drowsy and sluggish, even hours after use, the drug use may be a significant contributor to the crash.

Investigatory work by both the police and attorneys can help uncover contributing factors, such as a driver's drug use, in a motor vehicle accident.

Source: NHTSA.gov

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