Over the past few years, approximately 5% to 10% of automotive fatalities in Nebraska involved some sort of drug impairment, according to data provided by a state highway safety administrator, reports the Omaha World-Herald.
In 2015, there were 29 fatalities in which a driver tested positive for drugs only — no alcohol impairment was found. In 2016, that number dropped to 25, but rose again to 29 the following year. Because education programs have helped to curb drunk driving, law enforcement and safety agencies are aiming to do the same with drugged driving. according to the report.
Nebraska's drug recognition expert program (DRE), trains police officers to spot non-alcohol-related impairment in motorists. It can be a challenging task as multiple substances sometimes impair drivers. For example, in 2017, in nearly 25% of all fatalities in Nebraska crashes, both drugs and alcohol played a role, according to the World-Herald report.
Specifically, in 2017, there were 56 fatalities in Nebraska crashes where both drugs and alcohol were a factor.
DREs encounter motorists that use a diverse range of drugs — from marijuana and an array of illegal substances to a plethora of prescription drugs. Marijuana and meth were the most common drugs present in fatalities from 2011 to 2014, according to Nebraska Highway Safety Office data.