The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducts periodic roadside surveys in order to determine the number of impaired people on the roads. In the past 40 years, five different surveys have been completed in which drivers had their blood tested for alcohol and/or drug impairment. It should be noted, however, that the studies are voluntary and motorists who participate and who are found to be impaired are not arrested.
The 2014 roadside survey data has now been released by the NHTSA and it contains mixed news. The good news is that the number of motorists driving under the influence of alcohol remains low and has fallen dramatically over the past several years.
The bad news is that the number of people driving under the influence of drugs has been climbing. Drugged driving can be as dangerous as driving while drunk, and a Janesville personal injury attorney can help victims of a drugged driving crashes pursue a claim for monetary damages for losses.
Drunk Driving Declines & Drugged Driving Increases
In the 2014 roadside survey, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests showed that only a total of eight percent of motorists driving at night during the weekend had any detectable alcohol in their bodies at all. Only one percent of the motorists participating in the survey were found to have a BAC of .08 or higher, which is the legal limit nationwide.
This is a significant reduction in drunk driving, both since the NHTSA began conducting its roadside surveys in the 1970s, but also since the most recent previous survey in 2007. The number of people with alcohol in their system is down 30 percent since 2007 and is down 80 percent since 1973.
The fact that so few people are driving drunk now means that there are many fewer crashes and fatalities. Drivers who are above the limit when it comes to alcohol have four times the risk of becoming involved in a collision as a sober motorist. Those with BACs of .15 or higher are at 12 times the risk of becoming involved in a crash.
A big part of the reason why so few people drink and drive now is because safety groups have been very effective at increasing public education and awareness. They’ve also been effective at getting lawmakers to crack down on impaired drivers.
While the roads should be safer because of less drunk drivers, unfortunately an increase in drugged driving is also occurring. The number of motorists who had drugs in their system on a weekend night increased to 20 percent in 2014 as compared with 16.3 percent in 2007. When considering only the number of people with marijuana in their system, as compared with other drugs, there was around a 50 percent increase in motorists who were found to be stoned.
Policing drugged driving is more difficult because there’s currently no easy-to-use field breathalyzer test that will detect if someone is “stoned or high.” Drivers need to take responsibility and make the choice to stay sober and never get behind the wheel impaired by any substance.
If a crash does occur because of a drunk or drugged driver, a personal injury lawyer can help those who have been harmed to pursue a claim against the intoxicated driver responsible for causing the accident. Call today to learn more about your options if you’re hurt by a drugged driver.