NewsHealth / July 5, 2019

More Drugged Drivers Are Involved In Fatal Crashes Than Alcohol-Impaired

(Tom Woodward/Flickr)

(Tom Woodward/Flickr)

An annual study by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and Indiana University Public Policy Institute found there are more fatal car crashes involving drugged drivers than drunk drivers in Indiana.

Will Wingfield, communications director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, says the public has been educated about the dangers of drunk driving and seen high-visibility enforcement of it for decades.

Now, he says the same should be done about drugged driving, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol — which does not only refer to illegal drugs.

“Even if you have a legal drug, something over the counter or prescribed for you, talk with your doctor or your pharmacist about how that will affect your ability to drive,” Wingfield says.

Last year, 38 percent of drivers killed in fatal collisions who were tested for drug and alcohol use were alcohol-impaired and 45 percent tested positive for one or more drugs.

The report does not specify the type of drugs. Wingfield says that's not information that can go into the crash records database.

“But, that information is available to the prosecutor, should they choose to file charges against the driver in that case,” Wingfield says.

He says more police officers are being trained to detect signs and symptoms of the different drug categories, known as drug recognition experts.

“So there are now more officers on the street who can determine if a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol or both,” Wingfield says. “And a lot of times we do see multiple substances interacting with one another.”

Wingfield says alcohol-impaired crashes have decreased as more people take advantage of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

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