It's the first time drugged driving has surpassed drunk driving in the report.
Forty-three percent of drivers tested after fatal crashes that year had drugs in their system, compared to 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol consumption, the report said, citing data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, FARS.
Now in West Virginia, he told Hoppy Kercheval, only about 30 law enforcement officers have highly-detailed training in the identification of drugged driving.
One of the report's key recommendations is increased training for law enforcement officers to help them identify and arrest drugged drivers.
US data has shown for the first time that drivers killed in crashes were more likely to be on drugs than drunk, with marijuana involved in more than a third of fatal accidents in 2015, a study released on Wednesday showed. In many cases, drivers were combining drugs.
The report found that 43% of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a prescription or illegal drug. "Drug impairment has different signs and symptoms - think of the difference between uppers and downers". There were 18,493 crashes involving drugs from 2006 to 2015, according to traffic crash reports provided by the Michigan State Police.
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Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all 50 states. That could created a sampling error if those tested were more likely than other fatalities to have drugs present in their system.
"Alcohol is really simple because there is an objective test that shows a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 ... is too high to drive", Mr. Hedlund said.
For some drugs, the relations between a drug's presence in the body, its effects on driving and its effects on crash risks are complex, not understood well or vary from driver to driver.
On the operators' side, many drivers are ignorant about how drugs can impair their driving, and some may think they drive better while using marijuana, which is not true. "The relationship between alcohol and crash risk has been known for 40 years".
Each state will use their share of the funding from Responsibility.org, the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, to implement Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement training and Drug Recognition Expert programs.
"If you are using a substance that might impair you, you shouldn't drive", Hedlund said.