More than half of the people killed or hurt in traffic crashes had one or more drugs in their bloodstreams at the time of the wreck, a study reveals. 

The study was conducted by US highway safety regulators and was published on Tuesday, December 13th by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

The study of blood tests were taken from seven level-one trauma centers and four medical examiners’ offices in Miami and Jacksonville, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Baltimore; Worcester, Massachusetts; Iowa City, Iowa; and Sacramento, California. The study was conducted between September 2019 and July 2021 and took blood-test data from 7,279 road users, reported NPR.

Any level of drugs in blood samples were counted in the study – whether or not the subject was impaired was not taken into account. Even so, the study revealed that nearly 20% of the drivers tested had blood-alcohol levels of 0.08% or higher, exceeding the legal limit in every state.

“We also are concerned that nearly 20% of road users tested positive for two or more drugs, including alcohol,” said Acting NHTSA Administrator Ann Carlson. “The use of multiple substances at once can magnify the impairing effects of each drug.”

“It’s scary to all of us in a way,” said Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, a watchdog group. “But frankly, I don’t think I’m that surprised.”

The study results come after a dramatic rise in traffic deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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