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flying high

Study finds an increase in drug use among pilots involved in fatal crashes

An analysis of toxicology reports has found that more pilots in plane crashes are testing positive for drugs, up from 9.6 percent in 1990 to 39 percent in 2012.

The study looked at the reports of almost 6,700 pilots killed in crashes between 1990 and 2012, Time says. It took into consideration both illegal and legal drugs but not alcohol, and found that the most commonly used drug was diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that is a sedative and used in cold medicine. Just a few pilots tested positive for illegal substances, but the number of pilots testing positive for marijuana did increase over the past 20 years, mainly over the last decade.

Because a majority of airplane crashes are non-commercial flights, more than 90 percent of the pilots tested flew private planes rather than commercial.