Medical Tuesday Blog

Fatal Vehicle Accidents Involving Marijuana

Jan 22

Written by: Del Meyer
01/22/2016 5:59 AM 

A 30-year-old female came in for her appointment. She never looked me in the eye. Her eyes were roving from one side of me to the other. When I asked her what she was looking at, she stated that she wasn’t sure. She wasn’t looking at me and seemed unfocused. Her husband stated that she had just smoked a “joint” after which she frequently sees double. What really got my attention was when her husband stated he never allowed her to drive after smoking Marijuana because he wasn’t sure which of the two roads she would choose.

I went online to see the results of smoking marijuana. The MADD website lists the following statistics:

·         About 4,000 drivers are killed each year with drugs in their systems.  This doesn’t count those who had drugs in their system without test results, or those killed by drivers with drugs in their system. (NHTSA, 2010)

·         57% of fatally injured drivers had alcohol and/or other drugs in their system – 17% had both. (NHTSA, 2010)

·         Almost 7% of drivers, mostly under age 35, who were involved in fatal traffic crashes tested positive for THC, the principle ingredient in marijuana.

·         Alcohol levels above the legal limit were found in 21% of such drivers. (NHTSA, 2010)

·         Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. (NHTSA, 2010)

·         More than 22% of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs in blood and/or oral fluid tests. (NHTSA 2013-2014 Roadside Survey)

·         The drug showing the greatest increase among drivers from 2007 to 2013/2014 was marijuana (THC). The percentage of THC-positive drivers increased from 8.6 percent in 2007 to 12.6 percent in 2013/2014, a proportional increase of 47 percent. (NHTSA 2013-2014 Roadside Survey)

·         During weekday any time, 12.1% of drivers tested positive for an illegal drug; 10.3% tested positive for prescription and OTC medications. During weekend nighttime, 15.2% of drivers tested positive for an illegal drug; 7.3% tested positive for prescription and OTC medications. (NHTSA 2013-2014 Roadside Survey)

·         In 2013, 9.9 million people (3.8% of the population) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.  This was highest among 18-25 year olds, where 10.6% reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.  (SAMHSA’s 2013 NSUDH survey)

·         More than a third of teens mistakenly believe they drive better under the influence of marijuana. (Liberty Mutual/SADD poll of 1,708 teens in the 11th and 12th grades. Margin of error is +/- 2.16 percentage points.  As cited in Janet Loehrke, USA TODAY.)

·         Over half of all drivers admitted to a level-1 trauma center for traffic crashes had drugs other than alcohol in their system; marijuana was present in nearly a quarter. (Walsh JM, Flegel R, Atkins R, et al. Drug and alcohol use among drivers admitted to a level-1 trauma center. Accid Anal Prev. 2005;37(5):894–901.)

Additional Resources:

NHTSA’s Impaired Driving (drug-related) Reports:

To read more HHK . . . 
To read more HMC . . .

Feedback . . .
Subscribe MedicalTuesday . . .
Subscribe HealthPlanUSA . . .

Hippocrates and His Kin / Hippocrates Modern Colleagues
The Challenges of Yesteryear, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *