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New Impaired Driving Study Highlights Risk of Driving with Mix of Alcohol and Drugs

Handcuffs and AlcoholConsuming a mix of alcohol and drugs before getting behind the wheel is a particularly dangerous combination, according to a new study. It found that the concurrent use of alcohol and marijuana among drivers increases the risk of a fatal crash by more than five times when compared with non-impaired drivers.

Driving Impaired by Alcohol and Marijuana

As Science Daily reports, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health analyzed data for 14,742 fatal 2-vehicle crashes between 1993 and 2014. Drivers who used alcohol, marijuana, or both were significantly more likely to be responsible for causing fatal crashes compared to drivers involved in the same crashes who used neither of the substances.

On their own, alcohol and marijuana increased the likelihood of a car accident by 437% and 62%, respectively. The study also revealed that the3 most prevalent driving errors causing fatal crashes were:

  • Failure to keep in proper lane: 43%
  • Failure to yield right of way: 22%
  • Speeding: 21%

“While alcohol-impaired driving remains a leading cause of traffic fatalities in the United States, driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs has become more prevalent in the past two decades,” said Guohua Li, MD, DrPH, professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health. “Countermeasures targeting both drunk driving and drugged driving are needed to improve traffic safety.”

Risk of Drugged Driving in California

The study findings are particularly relevant in California, which recently legalized recreational marijuana. In 2014, 38% of all drivers who were killed in California motor vehicle crashes tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs. The number of drugged driving crashes has been increasing every year and is projected to climb in the wake of the passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

Just like alcohol, marijuana and other drugs can slow a driver’s reaction time and decision-making ability. Studies have also shown that driving while under the influence of marijuana can interfere with attentiveness, as well as the perception of time and speed.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a California drugged driving crash, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.