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More fatally injured drivers found with marijuana, opioids

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, more and more drivers in fatal car crashes are being found with drugs in their system. Oklahoma residents will want to know about the study that the GHSA has conducted regarding the issue of drugged driving.

After studying fatal car crashes in 2016, researchers found that overall, 44 percent of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drugs were discovered to have them in their system. A little over half tested positive for at least two drugs. The most common were marijuana (38 percent) and opioids (16 percent). 49 percent were discovered with both drugs and alcohol in their body.

In 2006, by comparison, 28 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs. The GHSA does state, however, that several things must be taken into consideration before concluding that there has been an increase in impaired driving. First, the presence of drugs does not imply impairment. Second, drug-testing methods are not uniform across the nation.

Other limitations beset those studies that measure the effect of marijuana and opioid use on drivers. For instance, it is difficult to estimate drivers' THC at the time of a crash. In the meantime, the GHSA and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility offer training programs for officers on how to detect signs of impaired driving, both drug- and alcohol-related.

Impaired driving is negligent driving, so when it factors into a car accident, innocent victims may have the grounds for a claim. If they partly contributed to the incident, the amount they receive in damages will be lower, but they may nonetheless be reimbursed. To get the guilty driver's auto insurance company to hear them out, victims may decide to hire a lawyer. The lawyer might contract with drug experts to build up the case as well before proceeding to negotiations.

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