Once again, lazy press lap up the Drug Czar’s deceitful offerings and present them as scary facts.
But a new report Kerlihowske [sic] pointed to includes a stark and surprising fact: In 2009, 3,952 drivers fatally injured in car crashes tested positive for drugs. That represents 18 percent of all fatally injured drivers.
Stark and surprising, huh? Unless you actually look at the report. No, I don’t mean reading the whole report. I mean unless you actually get as far as the second paragraph of the overview.
It is important to note that drug involvement means only that drugs were found in the driverâ€™s system. Drug involvement does not imply impairment or indicate that drug use was the cause of the crash. Drug presence as recorded in FARS includes both illegal substances as well as
over-the-counter and prescription medications, which may or may not have been misused. Unlike alcohol data in FARS, there is no measure of the amount of drug present.
Hmmm, maybe not so stark and surprising. The surprising thing may be that it’s only 18% of any particular population that would test positive under those parameters.
And David W. Freean and Monica Dybuncio continued to parrot all the tricksy “statistics” of the Drug Czar without once questioning.
And data from 2005 to 2009 show that 42 percent of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana were under 25, according to the statement.
What does that mean? That is the most meaningless statistic I’ve ever heard (and yet it sounds “scary” as though marijuana was the cause). Is it that people under 25 are more likely to get into crashes? True – check any insurance company’s rates. Or that people under 25 are more likely to use marijuana in general (and thus would be more likely to test positive regardless of when they had used it)? Also true. Is it that marijuana is a contributing factor to a significant number of fatal crashes for young people? Not based on this data, which doesn’t even measure that.
David Freeman and Monica DyBuncio: If you’re reading this, please take a moment to inject some facts into your coverage of this drugged driving thing that the Drug Czar is trying to promote. And be aware that the Drug Czar is Required by Law to Lie.
None of us want impaired people out on the roads, regardless of the method of impairment. But scare stories based on manipulated statistics that divert attention from real problems do none of us any good, and could end up causing real harm.