Positive drug test trends in fatally-injured drivers in the United States from 2007 to 2017

Sunday Azagba, Keely Latham, Lingpeng Shan, Fares Qeadan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The last two decades have seen tremendous changes in the U.S. environment surrounding drugs. Driving under the influence of drugs is a growing public health hazard. The present study examined trends in drug involvement in fatally-injured drivers in the U.S. Methods: Data were drawn from the 2007-2017 Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Cochran-Armitage tests were performed to assess the statistical significance of changes in the yearly prevalence of positive drug tests in fatally-injured drivers over time. In addition, analyses were stratified by sex, race, and age. Results: The yearly prevalence of positive drug tests in fatally-injured drivers increased significantly from 20.7% in 2007 to 30.7% in 2017, with results showing a higher prevalence among males, those aged 21-44, and Whites. The gap between Blacks and Whites narrowed in 2017. There was a decline in the yearly prevalence in all age groups between 2016 and 2017, although the decrease in the 21-44 age group was much smaller than other age groups. Among drivers who tested positive for drugs, 34.6% had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the threshold of per se evidence for impaired driving, and 63% had a BAC below the threshold. Conclusions: Our results indicate that the overall yearly prevalence of fatally-injured drivers who tested positive for drugs increased significantly from 2007 to 2017, with similar results found for subgroups. Findings further highlight that drugged driving remains a public health priority, and more action is needed to stem this disturbing trend.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number43
JournalSubstance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 25 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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