Drivers who attempt to operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol have been a source of pain and heartache for decades. Not only do these motorists cause countless injury accidents, they also contribute the unacceptably high traffic death toll on our nation’s roadways. As a Baltimore personal injury lawyers and automobile accident attorneys, we have seen this first-hand over the years.
But alcohol-related accidents are not the only problem. According to published statistics drugged driving could probably become much more common. Add this trend to the already significant amount of alcohol DWI-related accidents and you have a recipe for the continuation of senseless and potentially tragic car and commercial truck wrecks. It’s a problem that is fast becoming a concern for law enforcement authorities and proponents of traffic safety.
As a law firm that represents victims of car collisions and motorcycle accidents in Maryland and Washington, D.C., we are hardly surprised by the hardly inconsequential figures that show drivers in the District are very likely to encounter another motorist driving under the influence of prescription medication or other controlled substance. Known as drug DUI, this dangerous phenomenon if left unchecked could lead to increased instances of fatal single-car accidents and multiple-vehicle traffic wrecks as time goes by.
Based on a news article, three out of 10 motorists who die in car accidents in Washington, D.C., test positive for some type of drug, including over-the-counter medicines and illegal drugs. In Maryland, that number is even higher at about 25 percent. Sadly, the statistics show that drivers in this state are more likely to be driving under the influence of drugs than the rest of the country, which the article states averages around one in five.
It’s important to point out that not every victim testing positive for drugs had significant amounts of a drug in his or her system, according to reports. Nevertheless, this should certainly be a wake-up call for every driver who values safe travel on our public roads and who wishes to protect their family and loved ones from harm due to the possible negligence of another motorist.
While the national average for testing of drivers who have dies in highway accidents sits at about 64 percent, the District tests and average of 80 percent of victims, while Maryland tests about 85 percent.
Some have said that both the District and Maryland’s higher frequency of testing drivers who have been fatally injured is likely the reason for the higher numbers, however the fact remains that these are large percentages — more than most reasonable people would probably be comfortable with.
And, this is not to say that every past victim who tested positive, and the many others who are currently driving with some drugs in their system, were completely aware of their possible impairment prior to taking the wheel. The problem with drug DUI is that many times the driver in question, according to experts, doesn’t necessarily realize that he or she is putting others in danger when setting out on the road.
In an earlier study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sheds a bit of light on the prevalence of individuals operating a motor vehicle with illegal drugs in their system. According to that 2007 study, of the 5,900 drivers who were tested at night and on weekends, 11.3 percent tested positive for illegal drugs. Almost four percent tested positive for prescription medications, and 1.1 percent tested positive for both illicit drugs and doctor-prescribed meds.
Washington region home to more drugged drivers, WashingtonExaminer.com, November 30, 2010