Drugged driving is playing a growing role in fatal car crashes

The number of highway accident fatalities in the United States caused by marijuana use alone has tripled from just 10 years ago.

Earlier this year, KCRG-TV reported that a young man high on marijuana lost control of his vehicle on Interstate 380 and impacted with another vehicle parked just off the highway. Fortunately, no injuries resulted from the crash. The teen driver had exceptionally bad luck in that the vehicle he ran into was an Iowa State Patrol car parked in the median area. The teen was said to face charges ranging from driving under the influence to possession of marijuana and failure to maintain control. Unfortunately, this accident is just one of a growing number of drugged driving automobile accidents which make the roads in Iowa and elsewhere increasingly unsafe.

A recent story in USA Today emphasized the fact that marijuana, a substance now legalized by two states, is playing an increasing role in fatal car crashes. Columbia University researchers concluded that marijuana alone contributes to around 12 percent of all traffic deaths. This means that the number of fatalities in which marijuana played a role has tripled from a decade ago. Marijuana use is especially prevalent among younger motorists.

Marijuana is not the only drug causing highway accidents. Cocaine, heroin, meth and even prescription drugs can all impair perception, reaction time, motor skills, and memory. These are all faculties necessary to drive a car safely. The Iowa Department of Transportation says that almost 20 percent of severe automobile accident injuries involve a crash precipitated by an impaired driver. Eighty percent of Iowa's impaired driving accidents which result in severe injuries occur on state or county roads.

Approximately three-quarters of drugged driving accidents resulting in serious injuries involved lane departures or speeding. Lane departures can result in head-on collisions which can kill or seriously injure an innocent on-coming motorist and his or her passengers. Automobile accidents that occur at high speeds are often fatal since it is basic physics that high-velocity objects collide with greater force. Assuming that an innocent motorist survives a crash caused by a drugged driver, he or she might have sustained serious injuries disabling them for life.

Combating drunk driving

The Iowa State Patrol observes that too many people have lost loved ones or friends due to motor vehicle accidents caused by impaired drivers. In order to combat the drugged driving problem, Iowa intends to increase law enforcement efforts together with attempts to increase public awareness of the risks posed by drugged driving. Specialized training for law enforcement officers is a necessity since recognizing the signs of drug impaired driving are different from recognizing the signs of alcohol impairment.

The State Patrol suggests that drivers take the following steps to make the highways a little safer from the effects of drugged driving:

  • Do not drive while under the influence of drugs.
  • Do not allow others to drive while under the influence of drugs.
  • If you suspect an impaired driver on Iowa's roadways, contact law enforcement immediately so the driver can be taken off the road as quickly as possible.

Seeking advice

Driving while high presents a significant risk of injuring or killing other motorists and their passengers. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a driver who decided to drive a motor vehicle while impaired from drug use, you should call an attorney experienced in handling motor vehicle accident cases. The attorney can assist you in seeking monetary compensation for your injuries and holding the negligent driver accountable.

Keywords: car accidents, drugged driving, injury, right to recover