Drugs and driving an underrated danger

WASHINGTON – Alcohol and driving make a deadly combination, but what about drugs and driving?

A new study found that 1 in 3 drivers involved in deadly crashes have at least one drug in their system, and users behind the wheel are three times more likely to kill someone. Depressants were most often the drug of choice, followed by stimulants and narcotics.

Researchers with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health say drugged driving is a big problem because more people have been abusing prescription drugs over the past 10 years. And unlike drunk driving, drugged driving hasn’t been studied enough.

When drivers combine alcohol and drugs – they’re 23 percent more likely to be in a deadly crash.

The study says not every person who is on drugs is impaired by them, because people have different tolerance levels. A Breathalyzer can prove that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, but there’s not a measurement that easily determines drug impairment, which makes it harder to determine the impact of drugs on driving.

The study was published in Accident Analysis and Prevention.

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