As holidays draw near, many people are focused on the dangers of drunk driving, specifically on how excess alcohol can impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. However, it is also important to focus on the dangers of drugged driving, specifically on how drugs like marijuana can impair driving skills.

While drunk driving rates are declining in some areas, many Americans are driving under the influence of drugs. In a recent report, 38 percent of drivers who were tested for drugs in their systems after being killed in an accident tested positive. This is very close to the 42 percent of drivers who tested positive for alcohol after being killed in an accident.

In one-third of the positive drug tests, the drug found in the drivers’ systems was a form of marijuana. Amphetamines were found in 10 percent of the positive drug tests.

The Governors Highway Safety Association views addressing drugged driving as a paramount priority. In an association news release, their executive director said that even where marijuana is legal, states must deal with the problem of drugged driving. After all, it affects not only drivers, but also their passengers, people in other vehicles and pedestrians.

Currently, 23 states, along with the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana for medical use. D.C. and four states have legalized it for recreational use. That status may increase its overall use, and correspondingly increase the probability of marijuana-related drugged driving.

Prescription drugs may also have an increased effect on rising rates of drugged driving, in view of the fact that prescription drug abuse has increased fourfold in the United States since 1999. With that in mind, everyone should understand that the dangers of drugged driving are just as important to be aware of as the dangers of drunk driving.