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Study Shows Correlation Between Fatal Car Crashes and Drug Use

Although there has been much research on the correlation between fatal car crashes and alcohol use, there is not much known about the role that drugs play in these accidents. In order to gain an understanding of drug involvement and car accident deaths, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compiled data from post-mortem drug tests conducted from 2005 to 2009 on drivers who were fatally injured in car accidents around the country.

The most recent data collected by the organization showed that in 2009, there were 13,801 post-mortem drug tests conducted on drivers who died in car crashes that year. Of those drivers, 3,952 were shown to have some kind of drug involvement – including illicit substances, over-the-counter products, and prescription drugs. NHTSA reports that this represents 18 percent of the total drivers killed in car accidents in 2009 – up from 13 percent in 2005, 15 percent in 2006 and 16 percent in 2007. (2008 and 2009 had the same percentage.)

While this study is a start good toward understanding how drugs may contribute to car crashes, David Strickland, the NHTSA Administrator, said that more data is still needed to get a complete picture. Although the results clearly represent a correlation, he said, proving that drugs caused an accident would be difficult.

“Drug presence has clearly risen since 2005, and it’s an easy extrapolation to say that some of that drug use may have impacted driving,” Strickland told The New York Times. “But we can’t say people were impaired with scientific certainty that could stand up in a court of law.”

Need Help After an Accident?

If you have been injured in a car accident as the result of a driver under the influence of drugs, it’s important to contact a lawyer immediately. In order to protect your rights and prove liability, your attorney may need to collect evidence from the accident scene, as well as stay abreast of any criminal charges that may be filed as a result of the crash.

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