Drivers in Pennsylvania should know that although alcohol-related car accidents have slightly declined over the past decade, there has been an increase in drug-related crashes. The Governors Highway Safety Association conducted a study recently that analyzed fatal car crash data from 2016 and compared it to the data of 2006. It found that the percentage of fatally injured drivers with drugs in their system rose from 28 to 44 percent.
Of those drivers, 38 percent tested positive for some form of marijuana, 16 percent for opioids and 4 percent for both. About 51 percent were found with two or more drugs. However, the GHSA stresses that drug-impaired driving should not be separated from alcohol-impaired driving. Similar methods are used in testing for both. Moreover, 49 percent of fatally injured drivers in 2016 were found using both drugs and alcohol.
The GHSA acknowledges that not all drivers who are involved in a crash are tested for drugs, even when they die. Drug-testing methods also vary because of the lack of a national standard. In addition, the presence of drugs is not the same as impairment as certain drugs affect people differently.
Still, there is a need for greater awareness. To this end, the GHSA, together with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, offers training programs for police so that they can better detect signs of impaired driving.
Victims who want to be compensated for car accident injuries that they incurred through no fault of their own may consult with a personal injury lawyer. After a case evaluation where the lawyer factors in any comparative negligence, victims may learn whether they have the grounds for a claim against the other party's auto insurance company. The lawyer may further assist by building up the case, negotiating for the settlement and litigating if negotiations fail.