Study: Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Have Tripled « CBS Seattle

drugged driving 2Study: Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Have Tripled « CBS Seattle.

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study on drugged driving (click HERE to see full report).  According to the abstract, there is increasing public concern over substance abuse affecting traffic safety results.

The study assessed trends in alcohol and other drugs detected in drivers who were killed within 1 hour of a motor vehicle crash in 6 US states (California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia) that routinely performed toxicological testing on drivers involved in such crashes.  Their findings?

Of the 23,591 drivers studied, 39.7% tested positive for alcohol and 24.8% for other drugs. During the study period, the prevalence of positive results for nonalcohol drugs rose from 16.6% in 1999 to 28.3% in 2010 (Z = −10.19, P < 0.0001), whereas the prevalence of positive results for alcohol remained stable. The most commonly detected nonalcohol drug was cannabinol, the prevalence of which increased from 4.2% in 1999 to 12.2% in 2010 (Z = −13.63, P < 0.0001). The increase in the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs was observed in all age groups and both sexes. These results indicate that nonalcohol drugs, particularly marijuana, are increasingly detected in fatally injured drivers.

In short, fatal car crashes involving pot use have tripled in the U.S. during the study period.

“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, and co-author of the study told HealthDay News.

Other comments and quotes offered in the CBS article included:

“This study shows an alarming increase in driving under the influence of drugs, and, in particular, it shows an increase in driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs,” Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, added.

“MADD is concerned anytime we hear about an increase in impaired driving, since it’s 100 percent preventable,” Withers said. “When it comes to drugged driving versus drunk driving, the substances may be different but the consequences are the same – needless deaths and injuries.”

blog rainy traffic day 1

Of course an article that ran in Forbes (click HERE) suggests that the study may have been flawed and that testing for certain chemicals may provide “false positives”:

If “drugged driving” means operating a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of cannabinol in your blood, “drugged driving” inevitably will rise after legalization as consumption rises. But having cannabinol in your blood is not the same as being intoxicated.

Still, driving while impaired in any way endangers yourself and other drivers.  We each have a responsibility for traffic safety results and must be vigilant, sober drivers to continue to see improvements in crash rates.


1 thought on “Study: Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Have Tripled « CBS Seattle

  1. lets see what it really says…

    The article begins:

    The legalization of marijuana is an idea that is gaining momentum in the United States, but there may be a dark side to pot becoming more commonplace, a new study suggests.

    A suggestion is not a Fact…

    Lets start with why would Marijuana be included in a toxicology report? It is not toxin or poison!

    The only reason it’s tested for is because it’s illegal.

    So the article begins with an assertion that it is about the “United States”

    A little lower and we find:

    study drew its conclusions from crash statistics from six states that routinely perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal car wrecks — California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

    So in fact the study is not about the United States, but only six of the States, is that important?

    Yes for several reasons, First a statistical result, never defines anything beyond the sampling for that study.

    So why were these six states chosen?

    Were the other states left out because their numbers didn’t show the same comparison?

    We all know that every state routinely perform toxicology tests on drivers, involved in fatal car wrecks, but of course this study only involves dead drivers.

    So if it was a fatal accident in which the driver lived, it was not counted.

    the problem in determining if a driver is intoxicated on marijuana, and under current law levels required for a DWI varies wildly by state. The problem is that it stays in people’s system for thirty days so someone could have ingested some up to four weeks earlier and in no way be intoxicated…yet would still come up positive in a toxicology report. In fact because over 20% of Americans smoke pot at least once a month, that 20% will fail a drug test every day of their life, whether they are high or not.

    The article continues with

    Marijuana impairs driving in much the same way that alcohol does, explained Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. It impairs judgment, affects vision and makes a person more distractible and more likely to take risks while driving.

    Just a flat out lie, Alcohol and Marijuana have completely different short term effects. This is one study results not repeated anywhere, There are dozens if not hundreds that say the opposite; one study by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that drivers with THC in their systems have accident responsibility rates lower than those of drug-free drivers.

    One study indicated that traffic related fatalities fell by up to nine percent in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Entitled “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption,” the study, conducted in November 2011, found increased cannabis use by adults decreased alcohol related traffic deaths in those states.

    1. Drivers who had been using marijuana were found to drive slower, according to a 1983 NHTSA study.

    2. Marijuana users were able to drive straight and didn’t have trouble staying in their own lanes, according to

    a 1993 NHTSA study done in the Netherlands. The same study concluded that marijuana had very little effect on overall driving ability.

    3. Drivers who had smoked marijuana were less likely to try to pass other cars and were more likely to drive at a steady speed, according to a University of Adelaide study done in Australia. The study showed no danger from marijuana and driving unless the drivers had also been using alcohol.

    4. Drivers high on marijuana are less likely to drive recklessly, according to a study done in the United Kingdom in 2000

    by the UK Transport Research Lab. The study was actually undertaken to prove that pot impairs driving, but instead it showed the opposite — that stoned drivers were actually safer than many other drivers on the road.

    5. States that allow medical marijuana see a reduction in highway fatalities; for instance, Colorado and Montana have had a nine percent drop in traffic deaths and a five percent drop in beer sales.

    6. Low doses of marijuana were found to have little affect on the ability to drive a car in a Canadian study in 2002.

    These drivers were found to be in much fewer car crashes than alcohol users.

    7. Most marijuana smokers have fewer crashes because they tend to stay home instead of driving.

    8. Marijuana smokers are thought to be more sober drivers; traffic information from 13 of the states where medical cannabis is legal showed that these drivers are actually safer and more careful than many other drivers on the road. These studies were conducted by the University of Colorado and Montana State University, exploring the relationship between legal medical marijuana and deaths in traffic accidents.

    9. Multiple studies show that marijuana smokers are less likely to be risk takers than those who use alcohol; the studies showed that marijuana use calmed them down and made them pay more attention.

    10. Pot smoking drivers were shown to follow other vehicles at safer distances, which made they less likely to cause or have crashes.

    A close read to the article link provided shows inconsistency, with the quoted article above, for instance the study was done by Mailman School of Public Health then quotes Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention Then lets throw in:

    “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana”,

    and I’ll bet 5 out of ten them have alcohol also, and being killed in an accident does not mean it was your fault, Plus they are only using accidents in which a driver died.

    Sixty to 70% percent of Americans use alcohol…

    70% of Americans are on some sort of prescription drugs.

    Around 38% of Americans admit to trying pot (most of the rest lie)

    about half of those admit regular use (more than once a week)

    So on any given day 20% of Americans would fail a drug test for pot.

    So it follows for statistics to be true that with only 3- 12% of those tested positive for marijuana, that if fact proves marijuana smokers are better drivers because they beat the spread being involved in less than 20%…

    So even allowing for overlaps, it’s not hard to imagine that on any given almost everybody would fail a drug and alcohol test

    The article goes on to say:

    that alcohol and Marijuana together doubles the rate, which mean a percentage of the drivers had both, (conveniently left out) using 40% as the baseline for alcohol related, then says “marijuana related has gone from four percent to 12%” which statistically speaking and says that drugged driving is 28% (which would include Marijuana)

    They conveniently leave out the statistic of how much of the increase in pot smokers also had alcohol in their systems (I am sure they generated that stat and left it out) why because likely its was 90 – 100 percent and only showed that more drinkers are also smoking pot

    break it down further and you get less than ten people per day involved in fatal accidents with pot in their system and still doesn’t prove they were at fault, just that they had smoked pot sometime in the previous month or so…

    Reading through dozens of other studies the highest number I found was 5.6% contributed to drugged driving and that most accidents were found to be from driving too fast, and sleepiness (falling asleep at the wheel)

    There are 50- 70 million Pot smokers in the country (depending on who you ask) I believe there are a lot more or legalization wouldn’t be happening.

    They will tested positive everyday, every minute.

    I have been hit head on by a drunk driver on the wrong side of the road, I wasn’t killed but if I was I would be one of those dead people testing positive for THC, as well as caffeine…

    I would bet the farm that 95% percent of them had caffeine in their systems and 50% had nicotine, why are they not blaming the accident on those drugs?

    You can’t prove impairment from a drug test and all dead people are impaired from driving.

    Not one can walk a straight line

    So has has this study really revealed?

    That in six states that had a oddly low percentage of drugs found in dead drivers in accidents in which a driver died (setting aside the cause or blame for the accident also not in evidence) comparing 1999 to 2010, (there is no mention of any findings along the way, were they going up down stable) that a driver of one or both of the cars, used marijuana in the past 30 days.

    Therefore what is being proven is that pot smokers are better drivers or that number would have to be higher than 20%…

    Just Propaganda

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