About one-eighth of the driving public drove drunk last year and 1 in 25 drove high on illegal drugs, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Our Chicago car accident lawyers continue to report on the dangers of accidents involving drivers under the influence, which were responsible for 42 percent of all fatal crashes in Illinois last year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The USA Today reports more than 30 million drivers drove under the influence of alcohol. Another 10 million drove under the influence of drugs.
“Thousands of people die each year as a result of drunk and drugged driving, and the lives of thousands of family members and friends left behind are forever scarred,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “Some progress has been made in reducing the levels of drunk and drugged driving through education, enhanced law enforcement and public outreach efforts. However, the nation must continue to work to prevent this menace and confront these dangerous drivers in an aggressive way.”
As we reported recently on our Chicago Injury Lawyer Blog, the government is growing increasingly vocal about the risk of impairment caused by drugs, whether illegal narcotics, prescription medication or over-the-counter products.
“While we have understood for some time the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, much less is known or discussed about drivers under the influence of other drugs,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “This new data adds to other emerging research revealing that there is an alarmingly high percentage of Americans on our roadways with drugs in their system. At a time when drug use is on the rise, it is crucial that communities act today to address the threat of drugged driving as we work to employ more targeted enforcement and develop better tools to detect the presence of drugs among drivers.”
Among Illinois drivers over the age of 16, some 14.7 to 16.9 percent have driven drunk in the past year, according to the study. That puts Illinois and nine other states in the second-worst category. About one-fourth of drivers in 10 other states admitted to driving drunk during the past 12 months.
The report did find the overall rate of drunk driving declined slightly during the last decade, from 14.6 percent to 13.2 percent. Drugged driving declined from 4.8 percent to 4.3 percent.
“We can be pleasantly surprised that the numbers are going down,” says Peter Delany, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. “That doesn’t mean that they’re great, but the numbers are going in the right direction. But it’s not where we can rest on our laurels.”
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Chicago auto accident, the Illinois personal injury attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free consultations to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS to speak directly to a lawyer.