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GHSA probes link between drug use and fatal car crashes

Though studies on the effect of drugs on driver performance are limited by certain methodological flaws, one thing is clear: drugs, though their effect may be different from driver to driver, can lead to impairment and increase crash risk. Marijuana, for example, is estimated to increase it by 25 to 35 percent. Mississippi residents should know about a study from the Governors Highway Safety Association that probes the link between drug use and fatal car crashes.

More specifically, the GHSA studied the records of fatal car crashes in 2016 and found that of all those drivers who were fatally injured, 44 percent tested positive for drugs. Some things should be kept in mind: not every driver in a crash is tested, and no national drug-testing standard exists, so the results are not meant to be entirely accurate. The number is a jump from 10 years ago, though, where 28 percent of drivers tested positive.

Among those who tested positive in 2016, 38 percent had marijuana in their system, 16 percent had opioids and 4 percent combined the two. 49 percent combined drugs with alcohol. The GHSA states that separating drug- and alcohol-related impairment is a bad idea. For its part, it has partnered with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility to offer grant programs for officers. These provide training on signs of impairment.

Victims of auto accidents who discover that the other driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol may benefit from consulting with a lawyer about filing a claim. If successful, the claim could reimburse victims for medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, lost wages and whatever else is applicable. The lawyer might build up the case with the testimony of drug experts before proceeding to negotiations, and if the auto insurance company refuses to pay out, the lawyer may assist with litigation.

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