Fatal Car Crashes Involving Marijuana Are Rising Fast
Highways and car accidents
West Virginia has a lot of highways. And where there are a lot of highways, there are a lot of cars. And where there are a lot of cars, there are a lot of accidents.
The above has been true for a long time. But what has changed is the cause of the accidents. Where once the “normal” causes of accidents involved factors such as distracted and reckless driving, speeding, and drunk driving, more recently accidents are being caused by “drugged” driving, specifically driving while under the influence of marijuana.
Over the past decade, car crashes in the United Stated that involve the use of marijuana and that are fatal have tripled, according to the recent study put out by the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Dr. Guohua Li, co-author of the study, was reported by CBS Seattle as saying that almost 11 percent of drivers in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana. Continuing this trend, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.
In the study, data gathered from the following states was put together by researchers-West Virginia, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Illinois, Hawaii, and California. These are states that have toxicology tests performed on drivers who are involved in car accidents that prove fatal. The data included more than 23,500 drivers, from 1999 to 2010, who died one hour or less following a crash.
CBS Seattle, reporting on the study, noted that, while the study indicated that alcohol was a contributing factor in approximately 40 percent of the traffic fatalities during the last decade, it also found that an increasing role was played by drugs which, in 2010, contributed to 28 percent of the traffic deaths, 16 percent more than 1999. Also, one of the findings was that the main drug involved in this last statistic was marijuana, which contributed to 12 percent of the fatal crashes, a significant increase compared to 4 percent in 1999.
The study was careful to note several limitations or cautions, the main one being that marijuana is detectable in blood samples for a significant period after use, up to a week. As stated by HealthDay, the study noted that the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs should be interpreted as an indicator of drug use, not necessarily a measurement of drug impairment.
The study also made a note of the fact that the use of alcohol along with marijuana resulted in a dramatic increase in the risk that a car crash might cause a driver’s death. Commenting on this, Li said, “[If] the driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, their risk increases to 24 times that of a sober person.”
What will be the consequences of this study? The president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving asserted that it should prove a “wake-up call” to highway police. Li said that state officials are working to improve testing devices for marijuana, to measure the use of pot by drivers when police stop them for suspicious behavior.
If you are involved in a car accident in West Virginia and you suspect that the driver of the other car was using marijuana, you should immediately contact an experienced personal injury attorney, who will investigate the facts and determine whether they support filing a lawsuit against the negligent party who caused your injuries, in order to secure for you the compensation which you deserve.