An analysis of drug-related fatal crashes published by Fuicelli & Lee, P.C., a personal injury law firm based in Denver, analyzed drivers involved in fatal crashes in the United States who tested positive for drugs between 2000 and 2019. According to their analysis, during this timeframe, 13.5 percent of total fatal crashes involved one or more drivers who tested positive for one or more drugs. Marijuana was found to be the most frequent drug drivers tested positive for, followed by amphetamines and opioids.

It’s important to note that drug testing is not standardized across the country, therefore, the data is impacted by how often states drug test drivers involved in fatal accidents and how accurate the drug tests are.

Map of most common drugs involved in fatal car accidents in the United States

Top 5 Drugs Involved in Fatal Crashes

Marijuana was most commonly found involved in fatal crashes. Drivers who tested positive for marijuana in fatal accidents more than quadrupled during this time period. Below is the percent of drivers who tested positive for the listed drug between 2000 and 2019: 

  1. Marijuana: 6.8 percent
  2. Amphetamines: 3.5 percent
  3. Opioids: 3.5 percent
  4. Benzodiazepines: 3.1 percent
  5. Cocaine: 2.8 percent

Legalization of Marijuana

The number of positive marijuana tests in fatal accidents did not increase in states that legalized the drug. Regardless of legalization status, the number of positive marijuana tests is increasing in all states. 

Opioid Crisis

Not surprisingly, the opioid crisis in the U.S. can be seen in the data. Positive tests for opioids in fatal accidents peaked the same year that U.S. life expectancy dropped (2015).

Decline in Cocaine Consumption

The analysis found that positive tests for cocaine decreased from 2007 to 2010, along with the country’s overall consumption of the drug. According to a report produced for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the country’s consumption of pure cocaine declined by half between 2006 and 2010.

Top 5 Counties With Highest Percent of Drivers Who Tested Positive for Marijuana

The following counties with a population greater than 25,000 were found to have the highest percent of drivers who tested positive for marijuana:

  1. Juneau, AK – 35 percent
  2. Stevens, WA – 35 percent
  3. Mendocino, CA – 33 percent
  4. Logan, IL – 31 percent
  5. Sullivan, NY – 31 percent

Top 5 Counties With Highest Percent of Drivers Who Tested Positive for Opioids

The following counties with a population greater than 25,000 were found to have the highest percent of drivers who tested positive for opioids:

  1. Floyd, KY – 46 percent
  2. Bell, KY  – 39 percent
  3. Pike, KY – 38 percent
  4. Harlan, KY – 36 percent
  5. Perry, KY – 27 percent

Interestingly, when we broaden our analysis, out of the top 25 counties (population > 25k) with the highest percent of drivers who tested positive for opioids, 21 of those are found in the state of Kentucky.

Top 5 Counties With Highest Percent of Drivers Who Tested Positive for Cocaine

The following counties with a population greater than 25,000 were found to have the highest percent of drivers who tested positive for cocaine:

  1. St. Mary’s, MD – 13 percent
  2. Vermilion, IL – 11 percent
  3. Macon, IL –11 percent
  4. Sullivan, NY – 10 percent
  5. Rio Arriba, NM – 10 percent

Drugged Driving Prevention

Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Driving under the influence of drugs impairs judgment and slows down reaction time. Don’t risk driving under the influence, and keep yourself and others safe by planning for alternate transportation and stopping others from driving under the influence of drugs.