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[STUDY] Drug-Impaired Drivers Across Washington State

This interactive map shows prevalence of drug-impaired crashes across Washington state from January 2015 through September 2018. Click on a county to see the underlying numbers. Darker colors = higher % of fatal drug-impaired crashes. You can drag the map if needed. Washington State Patrol collision data.

Updated on: 10/31/2019

drugged driving

Driving while high on drugs is unacceptable. But selfish people continue to do so, causing serious accidents that kill and injure innocent victims. 

Numerous studies have been conducted that examine the problem of drug-impaired driving in the United States, but few have looked at the problem specifically in Washington state. Using Washington State Patrol collision data, we have done just that.

The study has been featured in news outlets across the state, including Seattle PI, KGMI radio, and KIMA TV. 

The top-rated car accident attorneys at Davis Law Group try to encourage responsible behavior and prevent drugged driving tragedies. Despite the efforts of educators, law enforcement, and countless non-profit organizations, the problem of drug-impaired driving persists and some Washington counties are especially prone its devastating consequences.

Drugged driving kills thousands of people every year across the country, and the presence of drugs in crashes is increased. The need for additional data is important, and we hope that this study plays a small part in raising awareness.

What We Learned:

  • From January 2015 through September 2018, there were 2,592 fatal auto collisions in Washington state. Of those crashes, an average of 4.44 percent involved a drugged driver. 
    • San Juan County had the highest percentage of fatal drug-impaired crashes. Of the four fatal crashes, one involved drugs (25 percent). 
    • 12 of the 39 counties in Washington state did not have a drug-impaired collision. 
    • 17 counties ranked higher than the statewide average, including six above 10 percent.
  • As a total, King County unsurprisingly had the most drug-impaired crashes during the time period studied. Since 2015 there have been 764 auto collisions which involved a drugged driver. Forty of those resulted in a serious injury; 16 were fatal. Of the 537 fatal crashes during the time period, 2.98 percent involved a drugged driver.
  • In Pierce County there were 379 crashes where drugs were a contributing circumstance. Of those, 29 resulted in serious injuries and 13 were fatal. In Pierce County, 4.04 percent of fatal crashes involved drugs.
  • There were a total of 2,938 drug-impaired crashes during the time period studied. Of those, 115 were fatal collisions and 192 involved serious injuries. 
  • Of the 2,938 drug-impaired crashes:
    • 66.4 percent were by male drivers (1,950).
    • 43 percent were single-vehicle collisions (1,265).
    • 43.3 percent occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday (1,272).
  • There was an average of 2.15 drug-impaired crashes per day during the time period studied. 
  • The time of day when drug-impaired crashes occur: 
    • Midnight-3 a.m.: 12.1%
    • 3-6 a.m.: 8.7%
    • 6-9 a.m.: 13.%
    • 9 a.m.-Noon: 16.6%
    • Noon-3 p.m.: 19.5%
    • 3-6 p.m.: 23.9%
    • 6-9 p.m.: 21.3%
    • 9 p.m.-Midnight: 17.9%
  • The most common objects struck by a drugged driver: 
    • Utility pole
    • Tree or stump
    • Roadway ditch
    • Guardrail
    • Fence
    • Earth bank or ledge
    • Concrete/jersey barrier
    • Building


Using the Washington State Patrol Collision Analysis Tool, we looked at all collisions between January 2015 and September 2018 that involved drugged driving. Specifically, that meant filtering all crashes down to the ones that listed “Under Influence of Drugs” as a contributing circumstance. 

Once we had the raw data, we began breaking it down by county and injury severity. We focused on “Fatal” and “Serious Injury” collisions, as those are the most likely to be newsworthy and spark debate. 

We then compared the total fatal collisions against the fatal collisions involving a drugged driver

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