One-in-five victims of North Carolina car accident fatalities test positive for drugs

As our Winston- Salem car accident attorneys frequently discuss in posts to our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers blog, state law enforcement and legislators have taken an aggressive approach to combat the incidence of North Carolina drunk driving car accidents.

What a recent National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study revealed, however, is that while plenty of attention is paid to drunk driving initiatives, the role of drug intoxication garners very little attention. And given that post-mortem examination of fatally injured drivers nationwide revealed that in 2009 one-in-five of all deceased drivers tested positive for drug involvement, the NHTSA has decided to take note, and action.
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“Every driver on the road has a personal responsibility to operate his or her vehicle with full and uncompromised attention on the driving task,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Today’s report provides a warning signal that too many Americans are driving after having taken drugs, not realizing the potential for putting themselves and others on the highway at risk.”

Strickland added that drug testing procedures are evolving. No state-by-state cohesiveness exists regarding the scope of testing, the type of testing, how tests are evaluated, and what merits a positive or negative result. Nor does the presence of drugs in a person’s system mean the driver was impaired or that the drugs play a causative role in the fatal car crash.

The government reports that six-in-ten of the 21,798 drivers who were fatally injured in car accidents last year were screened for drugs, including illegal narcotics, legally prescribed and over-the-counter drugs. Of those, 18 percent tested positive.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation of 349,329 drivers involved in crashes in 2008, 9,422 were impaired due to alcohol, medication or drugs. Of those, 272 were involved in fatal North Carolina car accidents and another 4,998 were injured.

Of particular concern is the number of fatal car accidents where drug played a role. Since 2005, the incidence of drug-involved crashes in the U.S. has increased by nearly 33 percent, from 13 percent to 18 percent. Conversely, the number of overall fatal car accidents has fallen.

“Drugged driving is a much bigger public health threat than most Americans realize and unfortunately, it may be getting worse,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. Kerlikowske is urging a multi-platform, multi-agency, state-to-state approach that “…increased public awareness, employs more targeted enforcement, and develops better tools to detect the presence of drugs among drivers.”

North Carolina car accident lawyers with Lee & Smith know that being involved in a serious or fatal car accident, or losing a loved one to a fatal car crash, can be among the most trying times in your life. We hope that if you are involved in a serious car accident you will call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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