Findings of a new study suggest that people with one non-alcohol drug in their body are thrice as likely to be involved in an accident as compared to people who do not have any such substance in their system.
While previous studies have established the link between drugged driving and road accidents, the latest study highlights the urgent attention that needs to be paid to this aspect.
The research revealed that nearly 32 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for at least one drug.
The latest study, conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, established that a combined use of drugs and alcohol was much more harmful than the use of one of the two substances.
People with alcohol and drugs in their system are 23 times more likely to be involved in a deadly automobile accident vis-à-vis people without either of the two, reveals the study.
For the purpose of the study, the researchers analyzed data from two separate national databases compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The researchers encountered difficulty in gauging whether the use of the drug had caused impairment in the victim. Unlike alcohol, the content of which can be measured in the blood, drugs do not lend themselves to such measurement.
Moreover, given the pharmacological differences between drugs and varied tolerance levels of individuals, it is not easy to determine drug impairment.
“The possible interaction of drugs in combination with alcohol on driving safety has long been a concern,” said Dr. Guohua Li, one of the study’s authors.
“While alcohol-impaired driving remains the greatest threat to traffic safety, these findings about drugged driving are particularly salient in light of the increases in the availability of prescription stimulants and opioids over the past decade,” added the author.
The researchers found that maximum accidents pertained to the cases where people had used depressants. Stimulants and narcotics, followed by marijuana were the other major culprits in drug-related crashes.
The findings of the study find mention in the journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention.