The dangers of drinking and driving are well known and uncontested. There are strict laws against operating a vehicle when over the legal BAC limit, with hefty fines and penalties imposed on violators. Moreover, drunk drivers can be held civilly liable for any accidents caused as a result of their drunk driving.
But just as dangerous as drunk driving is driving while under the influence of recreational drugs like marijuana. In recent years, public perception about marijuana use has changed considerably with medical marijuana now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and recreational use of marijuana legal in Colorado and Washington.
Nonetheless, marijuana alters a person’s impairs a person’s ability to perform certain functions, including operating a motor vehicle. According to a new study, fatal car crashes involving marijuana have tripled during the past decade, which may be responsible for the increase in impaired driving accidents in recent years.
“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said the study’s co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “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.”
According to this article, the researchers looked at crash statistics from six states that routinely perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal car wrecks: California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. The data included more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010.
The incidence of alcohol involved in the traffic fatalities remained constant at about 40 percent throughout that period, but the role of drugs in fatal crashes increased considerably accounting for more than 28 percent of traffic fatalities in 2010, which was up from about 16 percent in 1999. The research indicated that marijuana is the most common drug involved in fatal car accidents, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 crashes compared with 4 percent in 1999.
The study’s authors pointed out that the combination of alcohol and drugs is often a deadly combination. “If a driver is under the influence of alcohol, their risk of a fatal crash is 13 times higher than the risk of the driver who is not under the influence of alcohol,” Li said. “But if the driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, their risk increases to 24 times that of a sober person.”
The consequences of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are devastating and deadly. In 2010 alone, 10,228 people died in alcohol-impaired driving accidents in the United States, which accounted for 31% of all auto accident fatalities. In 2012, the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased slightly to 10,322 fatalities – which amounts to one death every 51 seconds – and a person is injured in a drunk driving crash almost every 90 seconds. In Illinois, drunk driving accidents accounted for 30.4% of all driving fatalities in 2011, with 279 lives lost.
At Ankin Law Office, LLC, our accident lawyers focusing on helping the victims of Chicago drunk driving accidents obtain the financial recovery that they deserve. After listening to your situation, we will analyze all possible legal claims, and vigorously fight to get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Chicago car accident lawyers.