Operating a vehicle while under the influence is a danger to other drivers and pedestrians not to mention against the law. Although under the influence is most commonly known for alcohol consumption, Boston automobile accident attorneys are finding that drug consumption is an increasing cause for fatal crashes in Massachusetts.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that drug use tested in fatal crash victims has been on the rise over the last 5 years. Though testing is sporadic at best, last year of the 63% of drivers that were tested, 3,952 came back positive for drug use which equates to 18% of fatalities in 2009. In 2005, only 56% of drivers were tested but 13% of the fatal drivers tested positive for drug use.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) used by NHTSA to collect statistics broke the testing down to three variables: did the driver get tested, what kind of drug may have been used, and what was the outcome of the test.
Test results included illegal drug usage as well as doctor prescribed and over-the -counter drugs so it varied anywhere between narcotics to inhalers to Tylenol. More importantly, if a drug was found positive it didn’t necessarily mean the person had used in excess but rather it was found in their system. Unlike testing for alcohol levels, determining whether a driver was under the influence of drugs is more difficult because some drugs remain in the system for days or even weeks after being consumed.
State to state there are some inconsistencies in determining if drugs are present, mostly due to the fact that each state has their own individual laws and policies established. State authorities don’t all use the same test, test for the same drugs, or use the same absorption levels.
Massachusetts is a state that needs work on the measures for drug testing. In 2009, 212 driver fatalities were reported — in nearly half the cases it is unknown whether drug testing was conducted. This track record is poor in comparison to nationally, where 21,798 fatalities were reported and testing status was unknown in only 4% of the cases.
Drivers should be aware of the warning signs on drug labels. If you have taken prescribed or over-the-counter drugs make sure you read all the side effects listed before getting in a vehicle to drive. Side effects can lead to impaired driving and could cause a serious or even fatal accident on the roadways.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in Boston or surrounding areas, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for legal assistance. For a free consultation call us toll free at 877-617-5333.