Marijuana found in 21 percent more truck drivers involved in fatal crashes from 2014 to 2015
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
With the legalization of marijuana on the rise, so too are those testing positive for cannabinoids when involved in fatal crashes.
Other than marijuana, stimulants (methamphetamine, cocaine, and prescription ADHD medications), depressants (benzodiazepines1 and barbiturates), and narcotics (fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, and others) are major factors in fatal crashes in 2015.
How much of a factor? Let’s take a look at the statistics.
Marijuana the major culprit behind fatal crashes involving all drivers in 2015
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reported that there was a 9 percent increase in fatalities for all drivers involved in fatal crashes between 2014 and 2015.
Of the 48,613 drivers involved in a fatal crash in 2015 – 14.1 percent were tested positive for at least one drug. The top drugs that resulted in a positive drug test were:
- Cannabinoids = 7.0 percent (9 percent more people than in 2014)
- Stimulants = 4.8 percent
- Depressants = 4.0 percent
- Narcotics = 3.7 percent
The trucking industry saw an 8 percent increase in fatal crashes year over year
The trucking industry gathers data from several sources when it comes to drug testing. The most important data affecting trucking companies is the national survey of controlled substances random test data in FMCSA's Management Information System (MIS) that measures the positive rate for controlled substances 1.0 percent threshold. The current minimum annual percentage rate for random drug testing is 25 percent of all driver positions.
However, this data does not go into details of where these positive rates come from. To dig deeper into the details, the NHTSA collects more specific data, especially when it comes to fatal crashes. This data is used in FMCSA’s Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts reports and to help states, with a dataset for describing crashes of motor vehicles in transport, to improve highway safety within each state and nationwide.
The latest Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report found that the number of trucks involved in fatal crashes increased by 8 percent from 2014 to 2015 and that there were 3,996 truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2015. Interestingly, 60 percent of all fatal accidents involving trucks occurred on rural roads, while 25 percent were on interstate highways.
Of the 3,996 truck drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2015 – 4.6 percent (185) tested positive for at least one drug. The top drugs that resulted in a positive drug test were:
- Stimulants = 1.8 percent (23 percent more drivers than in 2014)
- Cannabinoids = 1.5 percent (21 percent more drivers than in 2014)
- Narcotics = 1.0 percent
- “Other” Drugs = 2.0 percent
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