A quarter of all car accidents in the United States related to drug use


30/06/2011

Everyone knows about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, but alcohol is not the only product of intoxication, which causes a danger on the roads. Among U.S. drivers who died in car accidents, about one in four test result for the presence of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or amphetamines was positive, as shown by the new analysis.

The researchers reviewed the government’s reporting system that collects data on all deaths on the roads in the United States. The data were limited to 20 states that required the test for the presence of drugs in the blood of drivers involved in accidents in the period between 1998 and 2009. Only in this period included 44,000 deaths car crashes, implying access to information on the results of the test for the presence of drugs in the body of drivers.

But so far it is not clear whether the cause of accidents drugs, as noted by researchers from the Pacific Institute for Research and evaluation in Calverton. For example, some people involved in the illegal use of drugs may also be reckless, careless and inattentive drivers in general, not only when they are under the influence of drugs.

However, the last state analysis found that 14 percent of U.S. drivers, who demanded to be tested for the presence of drugs in the blood, there has been a positive result, as the researchers reported analysis. The fact that illegal drug use was exceeded almost doubled, reaching about 25 percent of drivers in fatal crashes, indicating that the drugs, according to scientists who have been the main cause of deaths on the roads.

"There are some suspicions concerning these data, because when you look at the reality on the drivers who fall into the fatal accident, you realize that the percentage of drug use is much higher," - said in a statement study researcher Robert Voas (Robert B. Voas).

But the performance of the test for the presence of drugs in the body of drivers suggests a number of challenges, and realize it is not as simple as a test for the presence of alcohol in the blood. Drinking alcohol a driver can be easily verified, and experts have determined that the alcohol level is above a certain limit - 0.08 percent - a strong effect on driving.

With drugs the same things are more complicated, since to date not determined yet no clear standards and levels that affect driving. A test driver does not just because certain drugs can be stored in the body for several days or even weeks after use. The fact that the names of illicit drugs varies from state to state, greatly complicates the matter.

Data also showed that stimulant drugs, including cocaine and amphetamines, have been associated with all types of fatal crashes, including speeding and other violations while driving, inattention or failure of seat belts. Effect of marijuana on the other hand, was associated only with speeding and failure to use seat belt. This indicates that stimulants particularly affect the driving, but it is still not exactly clear, according to the researchers.

Despite the different ways in which drugs can affect the drivers, alcohol continues to be the biggest risk on the roads, as the researchers noted.

The analysis was published in the July issue of the journal "Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs".

Original: LiveScience Translation: M. Potter


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