Drugged driving creates new dangers on Pennsylvania roads

On behalf of Josh Geist

Recent studies show drugged driving is rising as drunk driving declines

Law enforcement agencies in recent decades have made great strides in combating the problem of drunk driving. According to Forbes, a recent federal study shows that drunk driving has declined by 80 percent since the 1970s. However, while drivers are becoming more aware of the hazards of drinking and driving, the same cannot be said for driving under the influence of drugs. The same study found that drugged driving in recent years has risen dramatically, including in Pennsylvania.

Drunk driving declines

The good news from the Roadside Survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was the dramatic decline in drivers found with alcohol in their systems. The study found that since 2007 the number of weekend nighttime drivers with alcohol in their systems had declined by about a third. Furthermore, since the first Roadside Survey was conducted in 1973, the rate of drunk drivers has fallen by about 80 percent.

The decline in drunk driving is due to a number of causes, including greater police enforcement and tougher laws against drunk drivers. Experts also say that before the 1980s drunk driving was seen as largely harmless and it took the work of traffic safety advocates to make driving under the influence appear more taboo and unacceptable.

Drugged driving on the rise

While drunk driving has become socially taboo in recent decades, many motorists are failing to appreciate the dangers of drugged driving involving substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and prescription drugs. The Roadside Survey found that the number of drugged drivers went from 16.3 percent of overall drivers in 2007 up to 20 percent in 2014. Furthermore, drugged driving involving marijuana climbed by 50 percent nationally over the same period.

Pennsylvania is hardly immune to the problem. As LancasterOnline reports, drugged driving arrests in Pennsylvania have almost doubled since 2007, with some local police forces noting even steeper rises. With many states relaxing their marijuana laws, safety advocates worry that the prevalence of drugs on the road may be set to increase. This year, for example, Pennsylvania looks likely to legalize medical marijuana and other states have already legalized recreational marijuana use. In a separate report, the NHTSA also noted that drivers with marijuana in their systems were 25 percent more likely to be in a crash and the agency says it will be studying what effect looser marijuana laws are having on instances of drugged driving.

Motor vehicle accidents

Drugged driving has become the new drunk driving, but it will take effort and education to make many drivers aware of just high dangerous driving while high can be. In the meantime, people who have been injured by an impaired driver should seek out the advice of a compassionate and dedicated personal injury attorney. Such an attorney can help accident victims with the sometimes difficult problems raised in the aftermath of a wreck and may also be able to assist those victims in holding any potentially negligent or reckless drivers accountable for their actions.