More Californians driving high than drunk on weekends, study says
California officials are warning against "drugged driving" after a statewide survey found drugs that can affect driving in one of every seven weekend nighttime motorists -- nearly twice the number of those with alcohol in their system.
The survey results, announced Monday by the California Office of Traffic Safety, found that 14% of drivers surveyed tested positive for driving under the influence of impairing drugs -- both illegal and prescription -- while 7.3% of drivers tested positive for driving with alcohol in their system.
“These results reinforce our belief that driving after consuming potentially impairing drugs is a serious and growing problem,” Christopher J. Murphy, director of the Office of Traffic Safety, said in a statement.
The impaired driving survey included more than 1,300 drivers who voluntarily provided breath and/or saliva samples at roadside locations set up in nine California cities between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night.
Samples were tested for alcohol, THC, major illegal drugs as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications that may adversely affect driving.
Of the drugs found in the system of surveyed drivers, marijuana was most prevalent, with 7.4% of drivers having it in their system.
“Drugged driving poses a serious threat to public safety,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with California and other states to raise awareness about this important issue and continue to take action to make our roadways safer.”
-- Wesley Lowery
Photo: An Orange County sheriff's deputy checks a motorist's identification at a sobriety checkpoint in Westminster in 2001. Credit: Allen Schaben / Los Angeles Times