Every Texas driver knows — or should know — that drunk driving is dangerous and puts people’s lives at risk. However, an under-recognized and under-reported threat is driving while under the influence of drugs.

The reality is that drug use impairs a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, and there is an even greater risk of an accident when drugs and alcohol are combined.

Statistics show that drugged driving is on the rise, while instances of drunk driving have decreased.

Compared with alcohol-related crashes, it is difficult to say with certainty how many accidents are due to drug-impaired driving. After a wreck, police don’t always test for drugs, and the presence of drugs in a person’s system can be more difficult to detect than alcohol.

Still, in recent years the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that about 40 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs. That percentage is nearly the same as the percentage of those who tested positive for any alcohol.

Additionally, the NHTSA’s roadside survey of drivers found that 22 percent testedpositive for some sort of drug or medication.

Officials say this rise in drug-impaired driving is due in large part to higher rates of marijuana use and higher rates of prescription drug abuse. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription painkiller dispensation has quadrupled in the United States since 1999.

Drug-impaired driving is negligent driving, and victims deserve compensation.

Thousands of Texans have lost their lives in impaired-driving accidents in recent years, and many thousands more have been injured. Each drunk or drugged driving wreck is preventable, and victims or their families have a right to seek compensation.

To learn more about holding impaired drivers accountable, please see The Levine Law Firm’s overview of motor vehicle accidents. Our firm provides efficient, aggressive legal representation to accident victims in Austin and throughout central Texas.