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Half of Teen, Young Adult Traffic Fatalities Involve Alcohol or Marijuana

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Jarod Cassidy3 years ago

Fox News reports that new research suggests that half of all teen and young adult drivers who are killed in auto accidents are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or both.

Details of the Study

“Given the rapid changes currently underway in marijuana availability and permissibility in the U.S., understanding the effects of drug control policies on substance use behavior and adverse health outcomes, such as fatal motor vehicle crashes, has never been more important.” – Katherine Keyes, researcher at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Currently, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death of persons between the ages of 18 and 25 in the U.S.

In order to better understand who drugs and alcohol plays a role in these fatal collisions, researcher Katherine Keyes and her colleagues analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) regarding fatal crashes involving people between the ages of 16 and 25.

The analysis focused on states the test at least 85 percent of their fatal crash victims for drugs and alcohol within an hour of the accident, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington, and West Virginia.

The analysis found that 50.3 percent of the traffic fatalities were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the collisions. 36.8 percent tested positive for alcohol alone, 5.9 percent tested positive for marijuana alone, and 7.6 percent tested positive for both alcohol and marijuana.

National Impaired Driving Statistics

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 30 people are killed in drunk driving accidents in the United States every day. This averages to one death every 51 minutes.
  • Alcohol is a factor in roughly 30 percent of all traffic related deaths.
  • About 20 percent of traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years involve an an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • In 2010, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.


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