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New Survey Suggests the Half of Accidents Involved Drunk or Drugged Drivers

December 19, 2022

According to a new story published on, over 55% of motorists involved in severe or fatal motor vehicle accidents tested positive for alcohol or drugs. Driving while intoxicated is a leading cause of deadly accidents in the United States. Intoxicants such as narcotics and alcohol impair a driver's reaction time, physical ability, thinking, and ability to safely drive a motor vehicle. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also estimated that approximately 29 people tragically lose their lives in alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents each day in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is unsure how many more people are tragically killed in crashes involving drugged driving. 

The researchers aimed to expand what we know about traffic safety by examining driver behavior. Their recent study, published by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, examined information concerning passengers, electric scooter riders, bikers, drivers, and pedestrians who were involved in crashes. According to the study, about 25% of severe or deadly car accidents involved someone who tested positive for marijuana, and nearly another 25% had alcohol in their system. Approximately 11% tested positive for a stimulant, such as methamphetamines or cocaine, and 9% tested positive for opioids. 

In 32% of the deadly crashes and 18% of the accidents with serious injuries, there were more than two different drugs in the system of an individual involved. These statistics show, along with previous research studies show, that the combined use of substances like alcohol and cannabis, for example, leads to accidents that produce severe injuries and more deadly accidents as compared to drivers found with either substance alone, especially for younger drivers. 

The researchers also reported that having a substance in someone's system does not mean they were impaired while driving.

The researchers examined accident records from September 2019 through July 2021 from Level One trauma centers in Charlotte, Jacksonville, Miami, Worcester, Baltimore, Iowa, and Sacramento. The researchers' conclusions may not apply to the rest of the United States as a whole, but Amy Berning, a psychologist who helped to write the report, stated that their researchers selected trauma centers that represented areas with an extensive patient pool from both rural and urban areas. Berning stated that the researchers are concerned about people who have been driving drug or alcohol positive for many years. She stated that the researchers had seen similar data in other studies, and the data indicates that more needs to be done to make sure that we are continuing to create countermeasures to curb impaired driving.

Last February, a different national survey discovered that over 40% of people who used use marijuana or alcohol report driving while under the influence.

Ann Carlson, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's acting administrator, stated that impaired-driving accidents are tragic because they are 100% preventable. Carlson said that there is no excuse to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs because it's illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

The article stated that impaired driving causes about 10,000 deaths in the United States each year, Carlson, and these numbers have been trending down for many years. However, Alex Otte, President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said that the number of fatal drunk driving accidents had been steadily increasing since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

For motorists to stay safe this holiday season, drivers should make a plan. If you plan on drinking alcohol, call a ride share or use public transportation, or ask someone to be your designated driver. The holidays should be a time for friends and family. No one wants to suffer the loss of a loved one or face harsh criminal punishments for driving while intoxicated. 

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Category: Auto Accidents

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