As recently as 2010, there was a great and growing concern regarding the role of prescription drug use in the causation of traffic accidents. Perhaps the biggest problem with the use of prescription drugs and driving is that most drivers are unaware of the dangers and risks of driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Data from a study conducted in 2015 shows that prescription drugs are more prevalent in causing accidents than alcohol.
NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reported that, in 2015, drugs were present in 43% of the fatally-injured drivers with a known test result, more frequently than alcohol was present. In 2015, 57% of drivers who were fatally injured were tested for drugs applying Functional Assessment Ratings Scale (FARS) data, which has some limitations. Over one-third, specifically, 34.3%, of these individuals tested had a drug listed on the FARS list present in their body. 7.4% of the test subjects had a drug not on the FARS list.
Test results showed that marijuana was present in just over a third (35.3%) of these individuals, amphetamine was present in just under 10% (9.3%), and some other drug was present in the remaining 55.1%. This last statistic shows that drugs other than alcohol and marijuana have some marked usage by drivers in fatal motor vehicle accidents.
Only 19.0% of surviving drivers in 2015 were tested for drugs. They had slightly lower drug levels: no drugs in 59.9% of those tested, a drug in the FARS list in 26.5%, some other drug in 4.8%, and unknown test results for 8.9%. For surviving drivers, 46.5% of the identified drugs were marijuana.
In comparison, 70.9% of fatally-injured drivers were tested for alcohol. No alcohol was detected in 60.9% of those tested, alcohol at a positive BAC in 37.3%, and test results were unknown for 1.8%. Alcohol was tested in 28.4% of the surviving drivers in 2015. No alcohol was detected in 72.2%, alcohol at a positive BAC in 23.6%, and test results were unknown for 4.2%.
Prescription drug use as a cause of motor vehicle accidents is rising in America. Anyone using prescription medication should consult with their primary care physician or pharmacist about the potential effects of their prescription drugs on the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Prescription drugs may impair reaction time and the ability to effectively make quick decisions.
Please note that the side effects of prescription drugs include:
If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury in any type of accident, contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. Our decades of experience make us the preferred choice for representation in personal injury matters in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and surrounding areas. The consultation is FREE and you don’t pay anything unless we win your case. Call today.