New reports on drugs and driving causing fatalities

Fatal drug related crashes are outpacing deadly accidents involving alcohol. A new report finds a significant jump in the percentage of drivers killed while on drugs. 

Ron Edwards was riding his motorcycle in 2015 when a driver ran a red light and killed him. Police in Colorado say the driver of the car had marijuana in his system. Earlier this year, Ron’s fiance barb talked about the crash.

There’s an increase in deadly crashes involving drug use according to a new report from the governor’s highway safety association or GHSA. In 2016 alcohol was involved in 38% of driver deaths. While 44% of drivers killed tested positive for drugs. A jump from just 28% in 2006. More than half of the drivers had marijuana, opioids or a combination of the two in their system.

Russ Martin, GHSA Director of Government Relations says, "We definitely see states liberalizing marijuana laws, there are more prescriptions of drugs then ever before and we are in the midst of an opioid crisis."

Russ martin with GHSA says identifying and testing a driver for drugs can be difficult. Police say a woman on sedatives and painkillers caused a deadly accident last year near Boston. The driver was reportedly in a fender bender just 19 minutes prior, but the officer let her go because he didn’t see any signs of impairment.    

Many police departments are now training officers to better recognize drivers who are high, and several states are testing new devices like saliva swabs that can identify drugs in the system in a effort to prevent more deaths on the road.

There are also education campaigns underway to teach the public about the dangers of driving on drugs.