Multiple studies have compared the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol with driving the influence of marijuana. The upshot of these studies has been that alcohol has a more negative effect on driving behavior than marijuana when the two are considered separately, but that when they are combined marijuana has the effect of worsening the effects of alcohol.
According to a new study issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association and based on data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when it comes to fatal accidents marijuana and other illegal drugs now rival alcohol as a contributing factor. In fact, alcohol and drugs (both legal and illegal) were almost identical at being present in 38 percent of fatal accidents nationally.
While alcohol remains the undisputed most dangerous drug to use while driving – according to the study, other drugs are rapidly claiming their own share of blame for contributing to collisions. Marijuana is the most common of these drugs (almost 35 percent of those who die in car accidents had detectable amounts in their systems), but others include Amphetamines, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Benzodiazepines and Cocaine.
While the frequency of drunk driving has been declining in recent years, that reduction has been offset by the increase in the incidents of drugged driving. And depending on the drug, the effect on driving varies depending on both individual drug characteristics as well as how they act in combination with other drugs. So while the alcohol-marijuana combination is the worst in terms of accident-inducing behaviors, other drugs are dangerous in their own way; overall, the study estimates that they can double the risk of a vehicular collision.
What this means to you as a Connecticut driver is that you have a roughly equal chance of being involved in an accident that is the fault of a drugged driver as well as a drunk one, and the consequences to you in either case would be the same in either case. If this happens to you a personal injury attorney experienced with car accident cases can help you to seek compensation from the person responsible as well as his insurer.
Source: KOCO, “Study: Driving while drugged as deadly as drunk,” Carina Storrs, Oct. 1, 2015