Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say the new data highlights a growing problem of people driving with drugs in their systems, but they cautioned that it was not clear that drugs caused the crashes.
Still, the study calls attention to the danger of driving under the influence of not only illegal drugs, but powerful prescription or over-the-counter medications.
"I was very shocked by the number. It is a very high number. Clearly, getting this message out to the public about doing drugs and getting behind the wheel is critical," said Dr. Gil Kerlikowske, Director at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Drugs were reported in nearly 4,000 drivers who were killed in 2009. That is up about five percent from a study done in 2005.