Medication & Vehicle Accidents in KentuckyDetailed Investigation is Critical
While drunk drivers are better known for causing carnage on Kentucky’s roadways, whether a driver is impaired by alcohol, legal medications or illegal drugs the end result can be the same: accidents causing serious injuries or deaths. If you have been injured or a loved one has been hurt or killed by a driver impaired by drugs, we may be able to help.
The share of traffic accident-related deaths where at least one driver tested positive for drugs has nearly doubled over a decade according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports USA Today. Not only have the number of traffic fatalities increased overall, but it has become more common that drivers involved in fatal accidents test positive for illegal drugs and prescription medications.
- A National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2014 found ten million people age 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.
- 21% of the 31,166 fatal crashes in the U.S. involved at least one driver who tested positive for drugs after the incident in 2015, up from 12% in 2005.
- A study of 11,000 weekend, nighttime drivers found 15.1% tested positive for illegal drugs in 2013 and 2014, up from 12.4% in 2007. Marijuana showed the largest increase: 12.6% tested positive in 2013 and 2014, up from 8.6% in 2007.
- A nationwide study of fatal vehicle accidents done in 2010 found that about 47% of drivers who tested positive for drugs used a prescription drug, while 37% of those had used marijuana and about 10% used cocaine. The most frequent prescription drugs that tested positive were pain relievers.
The degree of impairment of a driver varies based on a number of factors: the drugs used, the potency, the amount used, whether alcohol or other drugs are in the mix, the size and overall health of the driver. Under Kentucky criminal law, a driver can be arrested if a substance — legal or illegal — impairs their driving.
Different drugs affect drivers differently:
- Marijuana slows reaction time, impacts judgment of time and distance and impairs coordination. Drivers high on marijuana are more prone to weave in and out of lanes and be distracted.
- Cocaine or methamphetamine can result in aggressive or reckless driving.
- Sedatives may cause dizziness and drowsiness.
Often drivers are under the influence of multiple medications, illegal drugs and alcohol. This combination can magnify the effects of the drugs the person has ingested.
An estimated 35,092 people died in U.S. vehicle accidents in 2015, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
- A 2009 NHTSA study found 18% of drivers killed in a vehicle crash tested positive for at least one drug.
- A 2010 study showed that 11% of deadly crashes involved a drugged driver.
The Kentucky State Police reports that in 2015 there were 1,404 vehicle accidents in which drivers were suspected of being under the influence of drugs. Of this total, 37 were fatal collisions and 571 accidents caused injuries. In 2015, statewide there were 694 fatal accidents and 23,803 accidents causing injuries.
A population that is of increasing concern for drugged driving is older drivers. In addition to having driving abilities that can decline with age, many older drivers are using medications that can impair their driving.
- In 2010, more than a quarter of drugged drivers in deadly crashes were aged 50 years or older.
- Illegal drug use by those 50 to 59 has increased, more than doubling from 3% in 2002 to 7% in 2010.
Young drivers can also be especially dangerous when they mix drugs and driving.
- Not only are they less experienced, but even when they’re sober they’re more likely to underestimate or not recognize dangerous situations. They are more likely to drive faster than the speed limit and follow other vehicles too closely.
- Middle and high school students who were part of a 2011 survey responded that in the two weeks before the survey 12% of the high school seniors had driven after smoking marijuana and about 9% percent had driven after drinking alcohol.
- A study of college students found that one in six had driven under the influence of a drug other than alcohol at least once in the past year. Marijuana was the most commonly used drug, followed by cocaine and prescription pain killers.
A driver who uses legal medications and/or illegal drugs and is impaired while driving a vehicle and causes an accident resulting in injuries or deaths not only can be arrested — he or she could be a defendant in a civil action filed by an injured accident victim of the family of a person killed in a collision. The plaintiff in such a case would seek compensation for the injuries and harm done by the driver’s illegal acts.
If you or a family member suffered a serious injury or your loved one was killed in a vehicle accident caused by a drugged driver in Kentucky, call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form. We can talk about how the accident occurred, how the other party could be found at fault, how the law may be applied in your case and what you may be able to do to obtain compensation for your injury.