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NHTSA Study Reveals High Rates of Drug and Alcohol Use in Car Accidents

When car accidents happen in New York and elsewhere in the country, what is most likely to cause those crashes? There is no single answer, and there are many different factors that contribute to motor vehicle collisions in New York. Many people acknowledge that distracted driving is a serious problem and that the use of smartphones for talking or texting behind the wheel can contribute to a wide range of motor vehicle collisions that result in injuries to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. In addition, most drivers in New York know that intoxicated driving is a serious problem and that consuming alcohol or using drugs before driving can increase a person’s risk of being involved in a serious or deadly car crash.

According to a recent article in NPR, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently conducted a study assessing the prevalence of alcohol and drugs in drivers who have been injured in car accidents. The results suggest that drunk driving and intoxicated driving may be significantly more common than many people expect.

Getting the Facts About the NHTSA Study

What does the NHTSA study teach us about drunk driving and drugged driving? Here are some key findings from the study:

  • More than 54 percent of drivers who are injured in collisions have at least some alcohol or drugs in their systems;

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in marijuana, is the most commonly found substance in an injured driver’s system and is more frequently found than alcohol;

  • Alcohol is the second most common substance found in an injured driver’s system;

  • About 20 percent of motorists have a blood alcohol concentration that puts them above the legal limit; and

  • More than 40 percent of injured bicyclists had at least one drug in their system at the time of the crash.

How to Hold a Drunk or Drugged Driver Accountable in New York

If you were injured in a crash in New York caused by a drunk driver or a drugged driver, what steps can you take in order to hold that motorist accountable? You will need to start with a personal injury protection (PIP) claim through your own insurance since New York is a no-fault state. Then, however, if you can prove that you meet the state’s serious injury threshold — which is required to sue the intoxicated driver — you may be eligible to file a lawsuit.

What is the serious injury threshold? Under New York Insurance Law Section 5102(d), you can meet the serious injury threshold if you have damages totaling more than $50,000 or if you have what the law defines as a serious injury.

According to the statute, “serious injury means a personal injury which results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.”

Contact a New York Car Accident Attorney Today

Do you need assistance with a drunk or drugged driving accident lawsuit in New York? Whether you need help with your auto insurance claim or you want to prove that you meet the serious injury threshold in order to get started on a lawsuit, our firm can help. An experienced New York car accident lawyer can speak with you today. Contact Leitner Varughese, PLLC, to learn more.


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