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New drugs-driving survey: 14% of California drivers test positive for Drugs

A controversial new survey by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) finds that 14% of California drivers (1 in 7) are Driving Under the Influence of DRUGS — almost DOUBLE the number of alcohol-impaired drivers (7.3%) — on weekend evenings.

Other drugs-driving OTS survey findings…

  • Of drivers tested positive for alcohol, almost one quarter (23%) also tested positive for at least one other drug
  • Of drivers testing positive for marijuana, more than one quarter (26.5%) also tested positive for at least one other drug
  • Impaired “drugged driving” was equally split between illegal drugs and over-the-counter prescription medications
  • Of the drugs, marijuana was the most common, at 7.4%, slightly more than alcohol

The survey notes that the combination of drugs and alcohol can increase the effect of both substances. It cites that of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2010 in California, a full 30% tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs — a percentage that has increased since 2006, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Yet drug-impaired driving continues to be under-reported and under-recognized, the reports states.

Is the OTS “drug driving” survey cause for alarm – or alarmist?

The California survey was federally funded, and is the first of its kind ever undertaken by any state. But the OTS press release leaves many questions unanswered. What does “tested positive” and “driving under the influence” mean, given the lack of legal thresholds for drugs (as opposed to blood alcohol, with a legal limit of .08)?

Over 1,300 drivers “voluntarily” agreed to provide breath and/or saliva samples at roadside locations set up in nine California cities, per OTS’ Nov. 19 press release. The samples were collected between 10:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, peak times for impaired driving — and thus also DUI Checkpoints. Breath samples were analyzed for alcohol, and saliva samples were analyzed for THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), major illegal drugs, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications that may adversely affect driving.

Is this California OTS survey valid, questionable, or bogus?

What do you think? Please post your thoughts and comments below.

Peace, Jon

One Response

  1. […] if that doesn’t catch your attention, a California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) survey last year found that a whopping 1 in 7 California drivers — 14%! — are driving under the […]

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