Drugged driving report shows high toll among young

The top three causes of teen death in the U.S. are accidents, homicides, and suicides. Each of these problems is linked to substance abuse. Make sure your teen knows about the dangers of driving under the influence - and pay attention to his/her whereabouts. istockphoto

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(CBS) Drunk driving may get more attention, but driving while drugged also takes an enormous toll in the U.S. That's the word from the nation's drug czar, who along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving today launched a public awareness campaign to draw attention to drugged driving.

PICTURES - Drugged driving: 20 states with highest rates

"Research shows that drugs have adverse effects on judgment, reaction time, and motor skills - all vital requirements for responsible driving," Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy, said in a written statement.

Maybe that's stating the obvious. But a new report Kerlihowske pointed to includes a stark and surprising fact: In 2009, 3,952 drivers fatally injured in car crashes tested positive for drugs. That represents 18 percent of all fatally injured drivers.

One in four fatally injured drivers who tested positive were under the age of 25, according to the report. And data from 2005 to 2009 show that 42 percent of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana were under 25, according to the statement.

Other highlights from the report:

  • Narcotics and depressants were reported at a higher rate among drivers age 45 and older who tested positive for drugs.

  • Females were overrepresented in crashes involving drivers who tested positive for narcotics and depressants. Male drivers were more likely to be involved in crashes involving cannabinoids and stimulants.

  • Positive results in crashes involving stimulants decreased by 40 percent since 2005, while positive results for narcotics and depressants increased by 36 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

  • Narcotics and cannabinoids accounted for almost half of all positive results in 2009.

  • Eight states had significant increases in rates since 2005. All other states remained relatively stable.

  • Among drivers who tested positive for any drug, 48 percent also tested positive for alcohol.

  • Male and female drivers were equally as likely to test positive for drugs in states with more than 10 fatally injured drivers.

  • David W Freeman

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