Up until a few weeks ago, if you were asked whether drugged driving or drunk driving was more common in fatal accidents, you probably would have answered “drunk driving.” Driving under the influence of alcohol has been a scourge to road safety for decades. But while this problem remains, it has been surpassed by drugged driving according to a recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.

For the first time, drugged driving was more prevalent in drivers who were involved in fatal crashes than drunk driving. About 43 percent of drivers in fatal accidents had either a prescription and/or illegal substance in their system, compared to 37 percent of drivers in fatal accidents having a blood alcohol level that was above legal limits.

Most of the people who were found to have drugs in their system used marijuana. This points to one of the contributing factors to this shift between drugged driving and drunk driving: states are decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana, and so it is only natural for this substance to be more common in car accidents now.

Another major factor, officials say, is the opioid crisis that has gripped the country for years now. The proper way to address this factor is far less clear, though hopefully some successful steps will be taken soon.

In either case, we have too many drivers out on the road driving under the influence of intoxicating substances, thus making them less able to operate their cars in a safe manner. 

Source: CBS News, “Drugged driving more fatal than drunk driving, report says,” Ashley Welch, April 27, 2017