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A growing number of drivers involved in fatal crashes test positive for drugs, especially opiates and marijuana, according to a new study by the Governor's Highway Safety Association – although it is not clear whether the use of drugs is really the culprit of those accidents.
The report raises serious concerns at a time when the United States is facing an epidemic of opioid use and more and more states are legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use. But the GHSA also warns that it is difficult to fully understand the extent to which "drug handling" is becoming a problem.
"Drugs can harm and drivers with drug problems can get blocked," said report author Dr. Jim Hedlund. a former senior official of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "But it is impossible to understand the full extent of the problem of drug handling because many drivers who are arrested or involved in accidents, even those who die, do not undergo drug testing." Drivers who are drug addicts are not necessarily affected. "
The US and foreign authorities have taken drastic measures against driving under the influence of alcohol over the past few decades. determine if they are under the influence of alcohol and determine if it was a factor in a shock.
The research found that the simultaneous use of multiple medications is becoming more common.
But what the federal data show is that, where the tests were conducted, 44 percent of fatally injured drivers in a crash tested positive for drugs in 2016, compared with 28 percent in the previous decade. Last study, 38 percent had used marijuana, 16 percent had used some form of opioid, and 4 percent had tested positive for a combination of both.  The research found that the simultaneous use of multiple drugs are becoming more common. Of the drivers who died in crashes in 2016 who were found to have consumed alcohol, 49 percent also tested positive for drugs.
"Driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of alcohol can no longer be treated as separate issues," said Ralph Blackman. , President and CEO of Responsibility.org, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia focused on drunk driving. While the use of alcohol by motorists was responsible for 28 percent of all traffic deaths in 2016, Blackman said: "We have to think about the combination of substances that drivers often put into their systems at the same time" .
Research has shown the potential of marijuana to impair driving-related skills, "NHTSA reported to Congress in a report last July, while noting that it can be difficult to determine when a driver using marijuana is not prepared to be behind the wheel, he also questioned the accuracy of the tests used to determine how much THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) is in the blood.
However, the GHSA says that you can not ignore the problem of drug driving, requires new testing procedures, an increase in public awareness campaigns and an increase in the application of the law.
"Too many people operate under the false belief that marijuana or opioids do not impair their ability to driving, or even that these drugs make drivers safer, "said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins." Break this myth requier e that states expand their poor management campaigns to include marijuana and opioids along with alcohol to show drivers that the impairment is an impediment, regardless of the substance. "