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Drugs and driving are a growing threat on American roads

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By Cara Murez

HealthDay reporter

THURSDAY, February 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Combining drugs and driving is a potentially fatal but all too common combination in the United States, according to a new report.

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) found that nearly 9% of adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol. Marijuana consumption among drivers was over 4%, while many adults also use both pot and other drugs in combination with alcohol.

The most commonly reported drugs while driving were marijuana and opioids, the study found.

“We need to focus our efforts on drug driving, in addition to impaired driving, because drug driving leads to such a high fatality rate,” said lead author Andrew Yockey. He is a doctoral candidate at UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services.

With the increase in legal marijuana use in the United States, there are concerns about road safety, the researchers said in an academic press release.

Keith King, director of the UC Center for Prevention Science, said: “There are serious concerns about how legalization will affect driving behaviors in adults.”

King called for more research to assess the impact of legalization. The team also focused on education at an early age and on identifying culturally relevant prevention strategies.

For the study, the researchers used data samples from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2016 to 2018.

Investigators found that men were much more likely than women to drive while drugged. Multiracial people were more likely than others to drive under the influence of marijuana. Sexual minorities were more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol than heterosexuals. Additionally, researchers reported that a significant percentage of adults used other drugs while under the influence of alcohol, including inhalants (70%), cocaine (69%) and hallucinogens (65%).

The report was published online recently in the Security Research Journal.

More information

The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the United States has more on drugs and driving.

SOURCE: University of Cincinnati, press release, January 26, 2021

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