Monday, May 1, 2017
In a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit organization funded by alcohol distillers, 43 percent of fatal car crashes in the United States in 2015 involved illegal or prescription drugs while 37 percent of these fatalities involved alcohol alone. This is a significant finding, especially after so many years of the alcohol industry pushing people to drink responsibly.
I see this as an indication of the effect of the fact that may be the effect of people switching from alcoholic products to the now legal marijuana. This report emphasizes the need for increased law enforcement training to detect drivers who are under the influence of drugs. Today there is no standard roadside test to detect most drugs. Unlike alcohol, which can be detected and measured using a Breathalyzer and simple blood test, drugs, which are often combined, can be more difficult to detect unless they are found in the possession of the offender at the scene. Most drug testing relies on a urine test, which only indicates that there has been drug use in the past month or so.
Marijuana laws allowing medicinal or recreational use complicate the drugged driving issue even further. A 2013 study found increases in fatal crashes involving marijuana use in only three of 14 states that passed medical marijuana laws prior to 2010. It also cited a 2016 study from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area that said traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana rose from 10 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2015, but those numbers include any time marijuana is detected, and other substances could be involved. Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana in 2012.
I’m proud of the alcohol industry for their pushing of the responsible use of their products, and it is something that the marijuana and other drug manufacturers are going to have to become seriously involved in.