Virtually every driver in the United States is aware of the public safety hazards that come with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; far fewer understand the danger of driving a motor vehicle when under the influence of psychoactive (mind-altering) drugs. Ever since the Ad Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration partnered up to launch their Drunk Driving Prevention Campaign in 1983, alcohol’s deleterious affect on driving has assumed an influential role at the forefront of American consciousness. Just three years after the campaign debuted in 1986 a Roper poll showed a 62% increase in awareness on the subject among young Americans, and our roads have grown substantially safer as a result. Still, with the increasing prevalence of using neuro-pharmaceutical drugs to ameliorate issues in our day-to-day lives, there is a pressing need to increase public of their effects on our ability to drive safely. (National Institute on Drug Abuse; Stop Drugged Driving)
Our injury lawyers are proud of our work helping victims secure compensation for the harms caused to them by the negligence of others, but we hope that by educating our readers, we may be able to prevent a few accidents from happening all together. Whether you know a lot or a little about drunk driving, here are a few helpful answers to questions that you may have about the issue:
How Big is the Problem?-According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 10 million individuals over the age of 12 (roughly 4% of American adolescents and adults) admitted that they had driven under the influence of illicit drugs during the course of the previous year. Psychologically and statistically speaking, we know that people are less inclined to tell the truth when surveyed about aspects of their behavior that might prove detrimental to their social or self-perception, so it’s safe to say that this number is an underestimate. Additionally, thousands of people drive while under the influence of prescription drugs every year because they simply don’t recognize this impairment in the same way that they recognize alcohol impairment.
Why is it So Dangerous?– The relationship between the various available drugs (prescription and illegal) and the ability to drive is more complex than alcohol, and there is no linear relationship between drug metabolites (blood levels of a drug) and impairment, and every case is a little bit different.
What Drugs Most Commonly Contribute to Crashes?-One study conducted by the NHTSA in 2009 found that 18% of all fatally injured drivers tested positive for at lease one illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drug. Cannabis (found in marijuana) accounted for roughly 50% of all positive drug tests, followed by Cocaine at 29.3%, and opiates at 14.8%. For the reasons stated above regarding blood content, it is very difficult to produce exact figures for pharmaceutical drugs.
What Can You Do?-Obviously, you should never get behind the wheel of a vehicle after using illegal drugs. For pharmaceuticals and other drugs it is a bit more complicated. Whenever you get prescribed a drug by your doctor, talk with him or her about the side effects that come with using it, and make sure to ask about their effects when taken with other medications you may currently have. The more you know, the better.
Since 1992 our lawyers have helped victims of negligence in all types of accident lawsuits, including those involving drunk and drugged driving accidents. We hope that you found this information helpful, and we urge you to seek out further information in order to fully understand the hazards of drugged driving, because we know that doing so will keep you and everyone else on the road a little bit safer.