With the holidays approaching, many people are planning to host or attend parties celebrating the season. Thanks to years of awareness campaigns, many of those people will think about alcohol consumption before they head out and either choose a designated driver, plan to spend the night, or save the drinking for another occasion. In fact, drunk driving arrests have been on a slow but steady decline for several years now. However, a new danger may be taking its place. Statistics show an increase in the incidents of driving under the influence of drugs.
What Are the Dangers of Drugged Driving?
Depending on how a particular drug affects the brain, the ability of the user to operate a car will differ. Some commonly-abused drugs have the following effects:
- Marijuana. Marijuana can slow reaction time, impair judgement of time and distance, and decrease motor coordination.
- Cocaine or methamphetamine. These drugs can cause users to be aggressive and reckless when driving.
- Sedatives. Benzodiazepines can cause dizziness and drowsiness.
The impact a drug can have on a driver has nothing to do with whether the drug is an over-the-counter medication, a drug prescribed by a doctor, or an illicit substance. Any drug that affects cognitive function can negatively impact driving.
How Common Is Drugged Driving?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2014 National Roadside Safety survey found that over 22 percent of drivers tested during the day on a weekday were positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs while only 1.1 percent of drivers tested positive for alcohol. The same number of drivers tested positive for drug use on weekend nights, but there was a higher percentage of drivers found to have used illegal drugs. The rate of alcohol use on weekend nights rose to 8.3 percent. These statistics indicate that there are a lot of drugged drivers out on our roads. Since a roadside test for drug use similar to a breathalyzer has not yet been developed, the numbers of drug-impaired drivers is probably even higher.
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