NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Since 2018, 130 people have been killed in crashes in Davidson County where the driver had drugs in their system.
“That’s 130 family members that have been lost because of crashes involving drugs, and even way more injuries,” said Metro Nashville Police Department Lieutenant James Williams. “Even if someone’s not killed in a crash, they could have a long-term injury from being struck by an impaired driver or injuring themselves because they were driving impaired.”
MNPD reported since 2020, there have been 660 total crashes involving a drug-impaired driver, 348 were injury crashes resulting in 582 injured people. There were 64 fatal crashes involving drugs resulting in 67 deaths since 2020.
“In most cases, the drugs it’s more than one drug that we’re seeing when we get blood results back,” said Lt. Williams. “The drug-impaired crashes seem to lead to a lot more injuries than we’ve seen in the past five years. The percentage of crashes between property damage and injury crashes, there’s more injury crashes when it involves drugs.”
The most common substances found in toxicology analysis from the Metro Police Crime Lab after alcohol were, THC, Cocaine metabolites, Fentanyl, Norfentanyl, Amphetamine and Methamphetamine.
“THC products don’t necessarily need to be marijuana, but any of the edibles, wax, any of those sorts of things, the vape pens that have THC in them,” he said. “Those are the most common, followed by cocaine, usually in combination with alcohol, and the opiates, fentanyl, and then methamphetamine.”
Since 2017, MNPD increased the number of Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officers that are specially trained to conduct evaluations to determine drug impairment.
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“Everyone kind of knows how alcohol reacts — alcohol has a smell once you’ve been drinking it, it’s pretty easy to detect. That’s not the case with drugs, and particularly drugs that have different effects than alcohol,” said Lt. Williams.
He said the recent statistics, unfortunately, are not completely surprising because they’re part of a bigger nationwide issue of drug abuse.
“I’m surprised at the increase. I think that some of it you could see after the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in overdoses and it’s also translated to people driving while they’re impaired,” said Lt. Williams. “So some of it is a surprise, but it also falls in line with overdose numbers we’re seeing. It’s not just a drug-driving problem. It’s just a drug use problem around the country.”