Drugged-up drivers in a lane near you

California, you better brush up on your defensive driving skills. A new survey came out this week finding one in seven drivers in the state to be under the influence of drugs.

The survey, conducted by the state’s Office of Traffic Safety, tested drivers out on the roads on weekend nights in nine cities statewide. Samples were collected and tested for alcohol, THC, major illegal drugs, and prescription and over-the-counter medications that may affect driving. It was the first statewide survey to test drivers for alcohol and drugs.

The report found that around 14 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs that might impair driving. Moreover, only 7.3 percent tested positive for alcohol. The testing also found marijuana is the drug of choice among half of those testing positive for drugs.

Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the Office of Traffic Safety said:

“These results reinforce our belief that driving after consuming potentially impairing drugs is a serious and growing problem.”

However, illegal drugs were found in the systems of only 4.6 percent of drivers, and 4.6 percent also tested positive for prescription or over-the-counter medications that may impair driving, according to the report.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also found that 30 percent of drivers who were killed in car crashes in 2010 tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs.

Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy said:

“Drugged driving poses a serious threat to public safety. … 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.”

The Office of Traffic Safety admitted that drug-impaired driving is often under-reported and under-recognized and plans to set up programs to better train officers to handle these types of cases.