A new study released in Public Health Reports shows more drivers are now testing positive for prescription drugs, marijuana (cannabis) and multiple drugs – and are more than likely 50 or older. University of Nebraska Medical Center Assistant Professor Dr. Fernando Wilson is the study author and says we have seen a decrease over the years in motor vehicle fatalities involving people under the influence however the nature of those crashes are changing.
The study shows that the percentage of drugged drivers with three or more drugs in their system nearly doubled from 1993-11.5%, to 2010-21.5%. In 1993 about 1 in 8 drivers were using multiple drugs compared to 2010 it was closer to 1 in 5.
Dr. Wilson says they are also seeing more people using drugs and alcohol together with 70% of drivers that used cocaine and alcohol and 55% using marijuana and alcohol.
The study also shows that 60% of the marijuana users were less than 30 years of age while 39% of the prescription drug users were 50 and over. Dr. Wilson says these trends are likely to continue given the aging population and reliance on medication and that more states are legalizing marijuana.
To address these trends the authors suggest that policy makers consider measures that would increase primary prevention of drug use by drivers. That includes counseling my medical professionals and more and affordable access to mass transit.