Tricounty News

Link between fatal crashes and alcohol or drugs?



Dear Trooper Kathy: What percentages of fatal crashes involve alcohol or other drugs? As a senior citizen, I am wondering if prescriptions count as drugs?

Trooper Kathy Says: In Minnesota, approximately 30-40 percent of our fatalities involve alcohol or another drug. Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs are included in the following survey. Remember, if your driving is impaired because of medications on schedule 1 or 2, you may be arrested for driving impairment.

Nationally, one-third of fatally injured drivers with known test results tested positive for at least one drug in 2009.

The percentage of fatally injured drivers testing positive for drugs increased over the last five years, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each year, between 56 percent and 65 percent of drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes were tested for the presence of drugs in their systems. In 2009, 33 percent of the 12,055 of drivers fatally injured in motor vehicle crashes with known test results tested positive for at least one drug, compared to 28 percent in 2005. The drugs tested for included both illegal substances as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications, (which may or may not have been misused). In 2009, marijuana was the most prevalent drug found in this population, approximately 28 percent of fatally injured drivers who tested positive were positive for marijuana. The authors caution that "drug involvement rates among those with unavailable drug test results may be similar to those for whom results are available, or there may be a systematic bias that could influence the unavailable rates in a positive or negative direction."

Percentage of fatally injured drivers with known test results testing positive for at least one drug, 2005-2009:

* 2005-28 percent

* 2006-28 percent

* 2007-28 percent

* 2009-30 percent

* 2009-33 percent