Alcohol is not the only substance that is affecting drivers behind the wheel.
Drug use can significantly impair driving by affecting motor and critical thinking skills. Drugged driving doesn’t only endanger the driver and passengers but also other people on the road. Different drugs have specific effects on your system. Marijuana tends to slow reaction time and decrease motor coordination. Cocaine or methamphetamine causes drivers to be aggressive and reckless. Sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, cause dizziness and drowsiness. Regardless of the substance, there are significant dangers for using before getting behind the wheel.
A study conducted in 2013 specifically evaluated the effects of marijuana on driving. The results showed that marijuana impaired judgment of time and distance, led to an increase in lane weaving and slowed reaction time drastically. Use of alcohol in addition to marijuana worsened all of these effects.
According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million people 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey of 2013-2014 found that 22% of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs. NHTSA found no trends towards daytime or nighttime hours.
Today, driving after marijuana use is more common than driving after alcohol use. In the past month, 1 in 3 college students drove after marijuana use and 1 in 2 rode with a driver who had been using marijuana. Among high-school seniors, 1 in 8 drove after using marijuana and 1 in 5 rode with someone who had been using marijuana.
After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to drug driving. In the NHTSA’s survey, 12.6% of drivers tested positive for THC. Although one may not feel impaired after using marijuana, the effects on driving are devastating to everyone on the road.
Here are some tips to eliminate drugged driving:
- Offer to be the designated driver
- Have the designated driver take all car keys
- Avoid driving to parties where drugs alcohol are present
- Use public transportation
- Talk to friends about the risks of drugged driving
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse