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Drugs leading to more fatal car crashes, says GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association has released a report on drugged driving that may be of interest to drivers in South Carolina. After analyzing fatal car crash data in 2016, the association found that 44 percent of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drugs tested positive. This is a 16 percent increase from 2006.

Of those fatally injured drivers, 38 percent tested positive for marijuana, 16 percent for opioids and 4 percent for a combination of both. Just over half of drug-positive fatalities had two or more drugs in their body, and 49 percent had combined the drugs with alcohol. It should be noted, however, that the GHSA is speaking only of drivers with known test results.

Several challenges prevent any study of drugged driving from being completely accurate. For example, there is a lack of a national drug-testing standard. In addition, drugs can affect different individuals in different ways.

Though marijuana clearly increases crash risk (by 25 to 35 percent, according to current estimates), its exact effect is still unknown. This is partly due to difficulties in estimating a driver's THC level at the time of a crash. The study of opioid use on driving is also hampered by difficulties.

Of course, this does not take away from a driver's responsibilities. When they choose to impair themselves and cause a car accident because of that choice, they could be faulted for negligence. A crash victim who is not to blame can potentially file a claim against the at-fault driver's auto insurance company. A lawyer could evaluate the claim, estimate a fair amount for the settlement and negotiate with the applicable parties.

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