The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a new study revealing alarming data which links drugs to car crash fatalities. 1 in 5 drivers who were killed last year tested positive for drugs at the time of the crash. This is not a clear indicator that drugs directly caused accidents, but there is a correlation. Nearly 4,000 drivers who were killed in 2009 had drugs in their system of the 22,000 drivers killed altogether. This is nearly 18%, up from 13% reported in 2005. Researchers say these numbers may have risen since testing has improved.
According to news reports, authorities tested for drugs ranging from heroin, methadone, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, LSD, inhalants to prescription drugs. It is unclear, though, when the driver used the substance before they died. The White House says the research is a “good first attempt” in understanding how drugs relate to fatal car crashes. It is understood that drugs affect a driver’s judgment and reaction, however it is unknown at what level drugs can impair a driver’s ability to safely drive.