Gov't: Drugs were in 1 in 5 drivers killed in 2009

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by oltex, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Gov't: Drugs were in 1 in 5 drivers killed in 2009
    WashingtonPost / Ken Thomas / 11,30,2010

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    Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Gil

    Kerlikowske, center, accompanied by Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier, left, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland, talks about drugged driving, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (Charles Dharapak - AP)

    WASHINGTON -- About 1 in 5 drivers who were killed last year in car crashes tested positive for drugs, raising concerns about the impact of drugs on auto safety, the government reported Tuesday.

    Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the new data underscored a growing problem of people driving with drugs in their systems. But they cautioned that it was not clear that drugs caused the crashes and more research was needed to determine how certain drugs can hinder a person's ability to drive safely.

    Drugs were reported in nearly 4,000 drivers who were killed in 2009, or 18 percent of the nearly 22,000 drivers killed last year. In 2005, drugs were found in the systems of 13 percent of the more than 27,000 drivers killed in car accidents.

    Researchers said the numbers could be higher because only about 3 in 5 drivers who were killed in car crashes were tested for drugs after the crash and testing varied from state to state. Among all the drivers who were killed in 2009 and later tested by authorities for drugs, about one-third had drugs in their systems.

    "Drugged driving is as inexcusable as drunk driving or driving irresponsibly," said NHTSA administrator David Strickland.

    Researchers are just beginning to understand the problem. Strickland said the data did not allow them to know whether the influence of drugs caused the fatal crashes. He said testing procedures were evolving and many states and communities test for different drugs or use different types of tests.

    The tests took into account both legal and illegal drugs, including heroin, methadone, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, LSD, prescription drugs and inhalants. The amount of time the drug could linger in the body varied by drug type, the researchers said, so it was unclear when the drivers had used the drugs prior to the fatal crashes. Aspirin, nicotine, alcohol and drugs administered after the crash were excluded from the tests.

    White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said the research was a "good first attempt" to understand the role that drug use plays in automobile fatalities.

    Many drugs can affect a driver's judgment and reaction time but researchers are still trying to determine the level of drug use that can impair a driver's ability to drive safely. A blood alcohol level of 0.08 is the legal limit for all 50 states but a similar level of impairment is uncertain for many drugs.

    "It's very clear that we've got a significant problem," Kerlikowske said. "We've made great progress on alcohol-impaired driving through education and enforcement. There's just no reason we won't be able to make progress in this area once we start bringing it to people's attention and we start doing the enforcement that's needed."

    Some recent high-profile crashes have involved drug use by drivers.

    In July 2009, a New York mother sped the wrong way for more than a mile with a minivan full of children, leading to a crash that killed her and seven others. The woman had a blood-alcohol level 2 1/2 times the legal limit and had smoked marijuana within an hour of the crash.

    In Phoenix, the driver of a dump truck struck a group of motorcycle riders in March, killing four people and injuring five others. Initial tests found the driver had methamphetamine in his system.

    Kerlikowske said efforts against drugged driving could be helped by improved testing procedures and standards for detecting drug use by drivers, along with more police officers trained to detect drug use by motorists.


    As Kerli pushes for states to pass per se drugged driving laws,he is pushing for congress to buy the recent use drug testing machine offered by Karen Tandy's (former DEA admin)employer as a means to further harass marijuana users.
    And the underlined sentence says it all,even though we are not sure if it means anything,we are going to push it anyway.
     
  2. I look at this differently if only 20% of crashes were by people ON drugs than teh other 80% happened with two sober drivers.

    It is clear that sober drivers occur in 80% of crashes so wouldn't it be a lot safer if everyone was on drugs?

    MY opinion is just as valid as the person who wrote that article. They interpreted it differently. Don't take opinions for facts.
     
  3. 100% of drivers in an accident last year were tested positive for wearing clothes.
     
  4. 98% :)
     


  5. Here, let me help put this into perspective.

    4,000 people were killed on the roads last year tested positive for "drugs". Now we all know that "drugs" will include damn near everything from kids cough syrup to morphine, legal and illegal. (I'd love to know how many seniors who were senile and "high" on their prescription meds make up that 4,000 number.)

    By comparison, it takes Big Tobacco less than 96 hours to kill that many people.

    Yeah, tell me again how this is such a huge problem...Texting while driving probably kills twice as much as "drugs", yet which one grabs the headlines stronger...:rolleyes:
     
  6. zzzzzzz the government really needs to get their case of the runs checked out
     
  7. Well, if you think about it cannabis stays in the system longer due to storing in the fat cells. This is unlike other drugs where the drug is out of your system within a few.days
     
  8. yes that is true but the gov't also knows that. They would test for ACTIVE thc in the body. NOt in inactive stuff stored in your fat cells.

    I would assume that they would use a saliva test for cananbis. I mean they're not going to do a hair sample because traces of thc could stay in hair for over a year. Just because some one used drugs once, doesn't mean that had any impact on their driving,.
     
  9. It is all a scam by the ONDCP to get congress to fund buying the recent drug usage detector made by Philips (Prohibition Hi-Tech Tool: Just Another Anti-Marijuana Silver Bullet? | NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform) reported last summer and that Karen Tandy,former DEA admin is now the lobbiest for.
    It is about getting congress to fund buying the machine for proliferation through out America and making Karen Tandy and Motorola millions of tax dollars,plus give law enforcement another harassment tool for drug(mostly marijuana) users.
     
  10. #10 RecStoner, Nov 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 30, 2010
    My question is, they tested positive for drugs, so if someone smoked a joint 3 days ago was killed, then yes, they would test positive, but were they under the influence at the time of the crash?


    I bet 3 of the other 4 were fucking drunk.


    This country is going after drugs, then why not go after alcohol too? Cigarettes even when used legally hurt other people, so why not start a worthless war on that?


    Attack the people that F up and not what got them F'd up.

    A drunk driver that killed someone had nothing to do with alcohol, it had to do with the person taking it.

    no one wants to man up anymore. They want to offer some statistic and then place their bets on it.


    great, create a few more worthless laws. They are passing these cell phone laws everywhere now too. What gets me though, they have laws against weaving, speeding, tailgating, improper lane change etc etc...... why not enforce those laws? If someone is on the phone and screwing up, then you can cite them for the infraction, driving a car perfectly in a responsible manner while talking on the phone should not be the crime.
     
  11. Driving a car is a full time job and talking on a phone distracts people. If the call is that imortant you should stop driving and talk. If all you could hurt was your self then it would be one thing but when you endanger others you are wrong. I look for the day that cars are outfitted with jammers that shut down phone operations while in motion,especially texting.
    And don't jump up and down about how good a driver you are while talking on your precious cell phone because there are already too many accidents from phone use
    while driving to ever convince anyone of your right to endanger others.
     
  12. Yeah, that's right. What if we did the same study and found out that 2 in 5 of the people that were involved in a fatal car accident were obese? Naturally, we should ban fatty foods and begin forcing people to exercise against their will, right?

    The only reason the DEA and the drug czar speaks out against drugs like that is because they are being paid off by these large pharma companies. The pharma companies want to keep drugs illegal because they might cut into their profits if they were legalized. This country is so corrupt, its disgusting.
     
  13. I doubt it, they would want the most demonizing stat as to test for ANY proof of marijuana in the system.
     
  14. yeah you beat me to it. haha
     
  15. Hyping Threat of Drugged Drivers to Push Zero Tolerance
    OpposingViews / "Radical" Russ Belville / 11,30,2010


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    The little red police cars show you the zero-tolerance states. If there is a time next to it, like 24h, that's the mandatory jail time you serve immediately.


    The headline from the Associated Press reads “Gov't: Drugs were in 1 in 5 drivers killed in 2009“. The lede for the story is:
    About 1 in 5 drivers who were killed last year in car crashes tested positive for drugs, raising concerns about the impact of drugs on auto safety, the government reported Tuesday.
    Other outlets like USA Today give it a more chilling headline “U.S.: Third of tests on motorists killed shows drug use“. The discrepancy results from the AP considering all drivers who were killed when not every driver killed was drug tested. The USA Today considers the “tests on motorists killed”, thereby discounting the roughly 40% of killed drivers who were never drug tested. Whatever – 20% of all drivers or 33% of all drivers tested – they're dead, they drove, there's drugs, be afraid!

    The AP then follows with a second paragraph that points out the obvious logical fallacy of “correlation = causation” – just because dead drivers had drugs in their system doesn't mean drugs caused the accident that killed them - something the USA Today article never addresses:
    Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the new data underscored a growing problem of people driving with drugs in their systems. But they cautioned that it was not clear that drugs caused the crashes and more research was needed to determine how certain drugs can hinder a person's ability to drive safely.
    However, while AP doesn't get around to distinguishing what exactly “drugs” refers to until paragraph seven, USA Today opens by explaining we're talking about all drugs, prescription and recreational:
    One-third of all the drug tests done on drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents came back positive for drugs ranging from hallucinogens to prescription pain killers last year - a 5 percentage point increase since 2005, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported Tuesday.
    Nobody recommends driving while impaired by drugs – legal or illegal. But there are many legal prescription drugs that will cause impairment that bear the warning “Until you know how you may be affected by this drug, do not drive or operate heavy machinery,” which suggests to me that once you do know how it affects you, it's your judgment call. In fact, one of those drugs is prescription dronabinol, the synthetic cannabinoid THC marketed as “Marinol”.

    AP's seventh paragraph also points out that presence of a drug in your system may have no bearing on whether that drug was impairing you in the first place:
    The tests took into account both legal and illegal drugs, including heroin, methadone, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, LSD, prescription drugs and inhalants. The amount of time the drug could linger in the body varied by drug type, the researchers said, so it was unclear when the drivers had used the drugs prior to the fatal crashes.
    Cannabis metabolites can be detectable in urine for weeks and blood for days. Most illegal drugs can be detected for a few days in urine and a few hours in blood. Prescription drugs are just as varied. So we've got 20% or 33% of killed drivers who had a drug in their system that may or may not have contributed to the crash that killed them and they may or may not have taken that drug before driving.

    For comparison's sake, USA Today links to the stat that drowsiness was a factor in 17% of all fatal crashes. You just may be more likely to die in a crash caused by lack of a nap as by taking the pill to get a good night's sleep. Are you scared yet? Well, you should be, because the whole point of scaring you about the drugged drivers is the push for nationwide zero-tolerance DUID laws. Back to the USA Today:
    Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the numbers of fatalities involving drugs “alarmingly high,” and called for more states to pass laws making it a crime to have illegal drugs in the body while driving, no matter how much. Seventeen states already have such laws.

    The lack of research also presents a problem for lawmakers to develop laws. They can outlaw the use of all illegal drugs while driving, but what about someone who took a prescription sleeping pill a few hours ago?
    Since they can outlaw the illegal drugs and there is no political cost in doing so, they will. These “zero tolerance” laws means if they detect any metabolite of any illegal drug, you are guilty of driving impaired. Since that joint you smoked could be detectable long after its effects had worn off, you'd be an impaired driver in the eyes of the law even if you were completely sober and unimpaired. Since marijuana is detectable for much longer periods than most any other drug, legal or illegal, “zero tolerance” laws amount to witch hunts for cannabis consumers behind the wheel.

    As for the prescription drugs, there isn't much political benefit in threatening a majority of your constituents, especially the older ones who do most of the voting, with a DUI charge for the pills they're required to take every day. Also consider the lobbying money and clout of Big Pharma that won't look kindly on strict new driving laws that might cause people to use less pills.

    No, the per se limit on prescription drugs isn't coming to your state anytime soon… but maybe the end of driving privileges for cannabis consumers in your state. Arizona (except for medical marijuana patients), Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Delaware, Utah, and South Dakota already have these laws – learn what the DUID laws are in your state.
     
  16. Press continues to pretend the Drug Czar has something important to say
    DrugWarrant / Pete Guither / 12,1,2010


    The drug czar is once again pushing his ridiculous drugged driving crusade with more meaningless data, and while the press isn't completely rolling over dead, they're comatose and the fact that they even print this stupidity is an insult to journalism.
    Let's take a look at CNN. In an article posted by CNN Medical Senior Producer David Martin, we have:

    The meaningless data
    A first-ever drug analysis of drivers killed in car crashes found one in three tested positive for drugs in 2009, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported Tuesday. [...]

    The presence of all types of drugs in fatal crashes has increased 5 percent in the past five years, according to 2005-2009 data, compiled and analyzed for the first time by NHTSA. Of the 12,055 drivers tested in 2009, 3,952 tested positive for drugs.

    The meaningless hype
    Gil Kerlikowske, director of the National Drug Control Policy, said the percentage was alarming and should serve as a wakeup call.

    “We have not paid very much attention to the drugged driving issue,” Kerlikowske, President Obama's so-called drug czar, told CNN. “It is a significant problem.”

    The meaningless quote from a clueless “expert”
    David W. Kaufman, associate director at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, said the results were not inconsistent with surveys he and his colleagues have conducted.

    “There's no question that people are taking a lot of drugs, and some of these drugs might affect their ability to operate motor vehicles,” he said. “I think it's fair to say there's more to worry about than people drinking too much.”
    The partial disclaimer buried deep in the story so CNN can pretend that they're responsible journalists
    The Office of National Drug Control Policy figures released Tuesday do not suggest drug use was responsible for the fatal accident, nor do they implicate the driver who died. The report also doesn't determine whether the increase might be the result of Americans taking more medications, generally.
    The AP has more. They note that the researchers at NHTSA tried to downplay the hype, and yet they added a category of their own to the story:

    The meaningless and irrelevant anecdote
    In July 2009, a New York mother sped the wrong way for more than a mile with a minivan full of children, leading to a crash that killed her and seven others. The woman had a blood-alcohol level 2 1/2 times the legal limit and had smoked marijuana within an hour of the crash.

    In Phoenix, the driver of a dump truck struck a group of motorcycle riders in March, killing four people and injuring five others. Initial tests found the driver had methamphetamine in his system.

    That's right. Out of the entire two stories they came up with to show that drugged driving (supposedly separate from drunk driving) is a problem, one of them involved someone with a blood-alcohol level 2.5 times the legal limit.

    OK, now let's take a look at this story as if we were, oh, real journalists with integrity.


    1. Has there been an increase or decrease in overall traffic fatalities nationally? Story doesn't say. Drug Czar doesn't say. Shouldn't this be the first question asked? If there's an increase in drugs showing up in fatalities, how is it an issue if there's no corresponding increase in traffic fatalities? For all we know, an overall increase in drug use could be reducing fatalities.
    2. What is the rate of drugs present in the non-fatality drivers? Without that as comparison, there's nothing to indicate… anything. What if it turns out that drug presence is less prevalent in fatalities than non-fatalities?
    3. “Researchers said the numbers could be higher because only about 3 in 5 drivers who were killed in car crashes were tested for drugs after the crash and testing varied from state to state.” Hmmm… The numbers could also be lower because only 3 in 5 drivers were tested for drugs after the crash. In fact, wouldn't it be even more likely that drivers were tested for drugs in cases where drugs were believed to be involved? That might actually skew the results.
    4. What about the change in drug usage in the general population? I just visited my Dad. He's the safest driver I know, and yet he takes about 16 pills every day as part of what his doctor prescribes for various issues related to getting older. Not all prescription drugs cause impairment, and our population is aging. Old cautious drivers with drugs in their systems may be safer than young inexperienced sober drivers trying to impress a date.
    5. What about relevance of the data?
    6. We know nothing about whether the crashes were caused by drugs.
    7. We know nothing about whether the drugs involved cause impairment.
    8. We know nothing about whether the drugs were merely in the system (as marijuana remains for days) or whether they were “active.”
    So, what do we have, here?
    Absolutely nothing.

    Interesting research, sure. But absolutely nothing of validity regarding the connection between drugs and driving fatalities.

    If Kerlikowske shows up at a press conference in DC with nonsense like this, you don't print it and then say “well, we really don't know for sure.” The responsible thing to do is laugh in his face, tell him to come back when he has some science to share, and then turn around and walk out. Especially if you're CNN Medical Senior Producer David Martin.
    …

    What I wish is that they'd start testing for the stomach contents of drivers in fatal crashes, so I could look at the data and then put out this press release:
    A first-ever stomach analysis of drivers killed in car crashes found one in three tested positive for beans in 2010.
    Pete Guither, Executive Director of the Prohibition Isn't Free Foundation, said the percentage was alarming and should serve as a wakeup call.

    “We have not paid very much attention to the driving while under the influence of beans issue,” he told CNN. “It is a significant problem.”

    David W. Doofus, associate director at CEMQ (Center for Expert Media Quotes), said the results were not inconsistent with surveys he and his colleagues have conducted.

    “There's no question that people are eating a lot of beans, and some of these beans might affect the environmental integrity of automotive atmospheric systems, thereby distracting the driver in potentially dangerous ways.” he said. “I think it's fair to say there's more to worry about than people drinking too much.”

    Guither noted that a recent incident had involved a truck driver crashing because of pork rinds. “Imagine if it had been beans,” Guither intoned ominously. “Children might be dead.”
     
  17. well if 1 in 5 people do drugs.. that makes sense.. right.?:p
     
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