In fact, the study, just published in the American Journal of Epidemiology revealed that fatal crashes involving people who had pot in their systems increased from 4.2 percent in 1999 to 12.2 percent in 2010, International Business Times reported.
“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” study co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia, told HealthDay. “If this trend continues, in five or six years, non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.”
Study findings also reveal that while alcohol contributes to about 40 percent of all traffic deaths and that that percentage remains fairly stable, driving while under the influence of other substances increased from 16 percent of traffic deaths in 1999 to 28 percent in 2010. Marijuana was the key drug implicated, according to International Business Times.
Researchers reviewed data from 1999 to 2010 from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and analyzed the toxicology results of about 23,500 drivers killed in car accidents in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. “The increase in the prevalence of non-alcohol drugs was observed in all age groups and both sexes,” researchers wrote, International Business Times reported. “These results indicate that non-alcohol drugs, particularly marijuana, are increasingly detected in fatally injured drivers,” the researchers point out.
Jan Withers, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), told HealthDay that, “MADD is concerned any time we hear about an increase in impaired driving, since it’s 100 percent preventable,” Withers told HealthDay. “When it comes to drugged driving versus drunk driving, the substances may be different, but the consequences are the same—needless deaths and injuries.”