Drugged drivers combining substances: study

Omaha, NE – An increasing number of drivers killed in traffic crashes are testing positive for prescription drugs, marijuana and multiple drug use, according to a recent study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Researchers used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to analyze crashes from 1993 to 2010. Although fatalities decreased during that time span, researchers said, the data revealed several evolving trends about drugged drivers. For example, the percentage of drugged drivers with three or more substances in their systems almost doubled from 1993 to 2010. About 70 percent of drivers who tested positive for cocaine in 2010 had alcohol in their systems, and about 55 percent of drivers who tested positive for marijuana also had consumed alcohol, according to the researchers.

Drugged drivers in deadly crashes in 2010 most often were male (75.4 percent) and younger than 50 (72.8 percent). The age distribution varied, researchers said, with about 60 percent of marijuana-only users being younger than 30 and almost two-fifths of prescription drug users being 50 or older.

The study was published online June 23 in Public Health Reports.