“Drugged driving” now more common than drunk driving

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Drunk driving may no longer be the leading cause of impaired crashes.

“Drugged driving,” has become one of the deadliest problems on the road. According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, drugs were are to blame for more deadly car crashes than alcohol, for the first time ever.

Jason Ritchie of Westfield told 22News, he’s not surprised the problem has become so widespread. “The problem is when you’re driving on the road, you see everything. I see people lighting up marijuana with bongs and everything while they’re driving. It’s just totally wrong,” he said.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association found 43% of drivers in deadly crashes in 2015 had legal, or illegal drugs in their system. You can compare that to 37% of drivers who tested above the legal limit for alcohol.

Police can breathalyze drivers to tell whether they’re drunk, but it’s not as easy to tell whether a driver is on drugs.

Ludlow Police Sgt. and adjunct Western New England University Professor Daniel Valadas told 22News, that has become a bigger problem now that recreational marijuana is legal in Massachusetts.

Valadas said there are other ways to detect whether a driver is on drugs, but the training officers receive is far from perfect. “The problem with the training is you have to have it on a widespread basis so several officers receive it at once. There are many things they have to look out for, and the training takes a long time. It is just not as simple as alcohol,” he said.