Preventing Maryland Drunk Driving and Drugged Driving Accidents: NHTSA Roadside Survey Reports Decrease in Drunk Drivers

Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs continues to destroy too many lives. Drunk driving and drugged driving are both careless acts that can be grounds for a Maryland car accident lawsuit if someone gets hurt or dies. On a positive note, however, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new roadside survey reported that the decline in the percentage of legally intoxicated drivers is continuing. Per the new survey, just 2.2% of drivers had a BAC of .08 or greater—compare this figure to 1973, when 7.5% of motorists had BACs registering at the legal limit or exceeded it.

The survey, gathered from roadside locations in 2007, also screened for other substances. 16.3% of nighttime weekend motorists tested drug positive for marijuana (8.6%), cocaine (3.9%), as well as prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs (3.9%). Drivers for the survey were chosen at random and given the opportunity to volunteer while remaining anonymous.

Out of 11,000 motorists, 90% gave breath samples and 70% gave saliva samples. Any motorist that was impaired or appeared to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs was not arrested. However, he or she wasn’t allowed to get behind the steering wheel of the vehicle.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted that while he was pleased that the fight against drunk driving is making headway, it was imported to remember that 13,000 people a year still die in US drunk driving crashes. He also emphasized the importance of reducing drug abuse and drugged driving.

The NHTSA wants to figure out how drug use is connected to driver impairment—especially as some drugs can stay in the body for weeks.

Other survey findings:
• There were 42% more male drivers than female motorists with illegal BAC levels.
• Motorists were more likely to be driving with a BAC greater than the legal drunk driving limit between 1am and 3am than during other hours of the day.

• Motorcycle riders were two times as likely to be drunk than the drivers of passenger vehicles.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, drugs are a factor in 18% of motor vehicle driver fatalities.

Driver Survey Finds Less Drinking, More Drugs, NY Times, July 13, 2009

Results of the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, NHTSA (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
Impaired Driving, CDC
Drugged Driving

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