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Report on drugged driving: Yes, it's a problem, and growing

Drunk or drugged?

Maybe neither of course, but there's a fair chance that quite a few of the motorists you're sharing California roads with are compromised to some extent by either drugs or alcohol they have ingested.

How comforting is that?

In fact, and according to a report released recently by the national advocacy group Governors Highway Safety Association, close to 40 percent of all the people who died in car crashes across the country in 2013 had some level of alcohol or impairing drugs in their systems.

The GHSA report, which relies on data culled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, stresses foremost the drug problem.

James Hedlund, the report's author, says that "it's time to pay more attention to drug-impaired driving." Hedlund notes that, while drunk driving "is still a big deal," far more research has been devoted to that topic over time than to the perils of motorists who are behind the wheel while drugged. More needs to be learned, he says, in order for states to develop policies, train police officers and implement tests to detect and measure drug-related impairment.

The number of drug-impaired drivers has definitely increased in the past few years, states the GHSA report, and this is obviously concerning to California and national traffic safety officials and enforcement authorities. Researchers say that about 12.4 percent of motorists tested positive for marijuana and other illegal drugs in 2007. By last year, that number had risen to more than 15 percent.

Take care, conscientious motorists. There are obviously a lot of drunk and stoned drivers behind the wheel on state and national roadways.

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