Research has revealed that driving while under the influence of drugs is on the rise.
According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of fatal accidents where drugs were the primary cause – not alcohol – rose by 55 percent from 1999 to 2009.
Statistics show that 16 percent of drivers stopped at random checkpoints were under the influence of legal or illegal drugs. About half of them were impaired by marijuana.
In California, where medicinal marijuana is legal, about 1,000 fatal car accidents are caused by drugged driving every year. However, many states where medicinal marijuana is legal don't have a strict policy in place to enforce the amount of the drug permitted to be in a driver's system. Thirteen states do have a zero-tolerance rule in place.
Several institutions are taking steps to find out at what point a driver becomes impaired with marijuana use. Scientists hope to be able to develop a way to determine whether a driver is under the influence with a saliva swab test, but that will take several years of research.
Additionally, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the NHTSA are in the process of creating a national campaign to raise awareness for driving under the influence of drugs.
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