As people across Tennessee and the nation watched the story unfold of champion golfer, Tiger Woods, being arrested near his home for a DUI, a spotlight was shined on a problem that is currently plaguing our roads and highways. As the Palm Beach Post reports, more crashes that result in the death of the driver now involve drugs, both prescription and illegal, than involved alcohol. In 2015 the number of drivers who died with drugs in their system is 43 percent, and alcohol is 37 percent. In 2005, the amount of drivers who died with drugs in their system was only 27 percent.
As The Atlantic explains, a recent study found the 20 percent of drivers had used a prescription drug in the past 48 hours. The most commonly used were antidepressants, sedatives and painkillers. Illegal drug use is also up among drivers on nights and weekends. In 2007 only 12.4 percent of drivers were found to be driving with illegal drugs in their systems, but by 2013 that number was up to 15.1 percent. Marijuana use is the most common, in 2007 8.6 percent of drivers tested positive for THC and in 2013 that number had jumped 48 percent, all the way up to 12.6 percent of night-time and weekend drivers testing positive.
With prescription drug use up amongst Americans, it is important to realize that having a prescription from a doctor does not mean a drug is safe to use while driving. Although alcohol has measurable limits within the law for when it is acceptable to drive, neither prescription drugs nor illegal drugs have limits in most states. This makes it difficult for law enforcement, who are increasingly pulling over motorists who do not realize or do not care that they should not be driving while taking a certain drug.