Study: More drivers killed in crashes with drugs in system compa - KPTV - FOX 12

Study: More drivers killed in crashes with drugs in system compared to alcohol

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A new study shows that more drivers killed in traffic accidents actually have drugs in their system instead of alcohol.

It's a national trend that's developed over the last two years, and local law enforcement officials say it's the reality here in Oregon too.

"If they want to smoke marijuana or drinking alcohol, or any other kind of drugs, if they choose to do that, just do it at home. But don't drive a vehicle and kill an innocent person, she was doing so much good for the community," Aida Rose said.

A few months ago, FOX 12 spoke with Rose about the death of her daughter, Elizabeth Kemble. 

Kemble was killed in a crosswalk in October 2015 when Jacob Walters hit her after smoking pot.

Police say they're dealing with more and more drivers like Walters.

A new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association says 43 percent of drivers who died in crashes in the last two years had drugs in their system. An increase from 38 percent in 2015.

Deputy Josh Wilson is a drug recognition expert with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Wilson says he's definitely seen an increase in people driving high since recreational pot became legal in Oregon, but he also blames growing problems with opioids and prescription drugs which people can't measure or monitor like drinking alcohol.

"A lot of times, somebody will tell me they don't feel high but that doesn't mean their body is not impaired, and I see that quite frequently. So just because you don't feel high doesn't mean you're not impaired or you're not safe to drive a vehicle," said Deputy Wilson.

Deputy Wilson says pot edibles are also an issue because they are hard to measure as well and it could be 30 minutes to an hour before they take effect.

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