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Alcohol or Drug Use Often Cause Car Accidents

Car accidents are often caused by drug or alcohol in their systems. The substances involved included not only alcohol and controlled substances, but also prescription drugs. Researchers used fatalities data from 14 states and reviewed toxicological records of drivers after the accident.

The study was co-authored by Joanne Brady of Columbia University. It did not indicate whether the drivers had a certain level or type of a drug in their system which would deem them impaired. The study did show, however, the frequency with which drugs are found in the blood work of drivers killed in car accidents.

More research is needed to identify the threshold at which a drug impairs a driver, the effect of multi-drug interactions, and the role of prescription drug use and abuse. With respect to alcohol, nearly a third of fatal car crashes involved a driver with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

Impaired drivers do not only cause many fatal accidents. They also cause many injuries – injuries that can be a life altering event for the victims and family of the victim. Those injured in a
car crash and accident may be entitled to compensation such as medical expenses resulting from the accident, future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity and pain and suffering.

States differ in how they collect data after fatal crashes. Different states test for different types of drugs. The bottom line, however, is that impaired drivers do not only put themselves at risk; they also endanger others on the road.


  • Reuters, “Alcohol, drugs common in fatal crashes,” Genevra Pittman, Sept. 6, 2012

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