More drugs, not alcohol, found in systems of drivers killed in car crashes

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - According to a new study, researchers found drugs more frequently than alcohol in the systems of drivers killed in car crashes.

The study was put out by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a non-profit organization funded by American distillers.

It found that among drivers tested in 2015 nationwide, about 57 percent of drivers killed in car accidents were tested for drugs. About 42 percent of the drivers tested positive for drugs. About 71 percent of drivers killed were tested for alcohol, and the report states that about 37 percent of drivers tested had alcohol in their systems.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol started keeping track of drugged driving statistics separate from drunk driving in 2016. A trooper from the OSHP told Cleveland 19 that's because drug use has become such a big issue both on and off the roadways, and the extra data helps police figure out how big of a problem it is, and how many resources they need to devote to fight it.

Cleveland 19 obtained numbers for OVI crashes from the highway patrol. The crash numbers include data from all law enforcement agencies not just the OSHP. The data showed that just in Cuyahoga County last year, about a quarter of all crashes in which a driver was under the influence – that influence was drugs. The numbers were slightly higher in Lorain, Summit and Stark counties. Statewide those numbers showed about a third of DUI crashes, 31.9 percent, were due to drugs.

Cleveland 19 also uncovered that while the data seemed to show there are more drunk drivers on the roads at night, and more specifically on Friday and Saturday nights, drugged drivers involved in crashes appear to be out any time of any day.

Research also indicates that the number of drugged drivers may be higher than the statistics show, because drivers who are drunk behind the wheel may also be using drugs. Troopers have previously told Cleveland 19 that if someone is clearly impaired by alcohol, troopers only test further for drugs under specific circumstances.

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