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Drugged driving on the rise nationwide

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As California braces for the impact of legalized recreational marijuana, the entire country is seeing a rise in the number of crashes resulting from drivers with drugs in their systems.

As NBC News reports, a recent study by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that fatal crashes where drivers were killed found that more of them had drugs than alcohol in their systems. This was the first time drugs, both illegal and prescription, were found in drivers at such a high rate (43 percent) compared to alcohol alone (37 percent). While there are regulations for the amount of permissible alcohol use, there are none for other drugs. In addition to Breathalyzer tests to look for alcohol in a driver's system, California Highway Patrol is now using a test to detect drug use in drivers. 

As The Atlantic reports, a recent study found that 20 percent of drivers had taken some sort of prescription drug in the past two days. Law enforcement stresses that just because a medication comes from a doctor, that does not mean it is safe to take while driving. This is also difficult to enforce because drugs have different effects on people, and there are so many types of medications that can be prescribed. 

Marijuana use behind the wheel has been on the rise, and one study found THC present in 12.6 percent of weekend drivers pulled over at night in a 2013-2014 survey, which was an increase of 48 percent from a similar survey in 2007. However, some stress that finding THC in a driver's system does not mean they are impaired, as there are traces for weeks after the drug's effects have worn off.

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