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Drugged driving accidents on the rise

Driving on the roadways of Oklahoma can be a dangerous undertaking. People driving under the influence used to bring up pictures of an alcohol-impaired driver causing an accident. Now, it could mean that they are driving under the influence of drugs -- or drugged driving -- even as the rate for drunk driving is declining.

The people who conducted one study state that a full 38 percent of drivers who perished in car accidents tested positive for drugs in their system afterwards. Forty-one percent of those who died tested positive for alcohol in their system. The number of drunk driving deaths has been cut in half since 1980, according to government statistics.

Marijuana in some form or other was responsible for one third of the drugs found in the system of those who were tested. Ten percent of those tested had amphetamines in their system. While marijuana seems to be a more accepted drug recently, it can still cause havoc on the highway.

The executive director of the Governor's Highway Safety Association stated recently that all states, including Oklahoma, need to take steps to reduce drug-impaired driving, even as some states are legalizing marijuana. Just as alcohol is not regulated or illegal, it is illegal to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated. It should be the same with drugs.

Marijuana is not legal in Oklahoma as it is in 23 other states and the District of Columbia. It is now legal for recreational use in four states and Washington D.C.

Not only is it illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana, prescription drug abuse has quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999. Another study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which did an impromptu study by pulling over cars and testing for drugs, found that 22 percent of the drivers they tested came out as having illegal drugs or medication in their system.

Any drug can impair a driver's ability to navigate the highway. If you have been involved in an accident by someone who was on drugs, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries and damages.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine, "Drugged driving on the rise," accessed Oct. 03, 2015

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