Drugged Driving

Drugged Driving Part 1

Drugged Driving - The Growing Threat 

Part 1

Drugged Driving …. the Growing Threat


An interesting article on driving while under the influence of drugs came out in the October 2015 issue of Westways. The points it raised are so timely given the fact that a number of states have already legalized marijuana and several more are set to join them.

The four states that have already decriminalized marijuana are Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia. The following states are likely to follow suit - Massachusetts, Nevada, California, New York, Vermont, Minnesota, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Maine and Delaware.

While the consequences of drunk driving have already been highlighted over the past 20 years, the subject of drugged driving has received comparatively smaller attention. However,

recent studies released by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show a changing trend in impaired driving on American roads.


In its most recent Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, there was a steady and significant decline in drunk driving rates, showing a drop of nearly a third since 2007, and by more than three-quarters since 1973. Good news certainly and NSTHA credits this to public education and enforcement campaigns that targeted intoxicated driving.


A Disturbing Trend


A disturbing trend is the sharp rise in the rates of drugged driving cases. The proportion of drivers found to have drugs in their system, whether illegal, prescription or over the counter rose from 16.3 to 20 percent over the same period. According to the survey, “nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.” Marijuana topped the list of drugs used.


The increase in cases of stoned drivers is raising a flag to states that have legalized or are contemplating the legalization of medical or recreational use of marijuana. People may be viewing drugged driving as more acceptable to drunk driving. This has got many law enforcement agencies concerned.


Don’t think that the drugged driving problem is affecting only a certain age bracket. It affects all age groups but those of particular concern are teens and surprisingly, seniors. In 2013, 9.9 million people representing 3.8% of the population reported driving under the influence of illegal drugs. This was highest among 18-35 year olds of whom 10.6% reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. Around 23% of drug related fatal accidents involved drivers under the age of 25. On the other hand, a survey in 2010 revealed that 26.2% of drugged drivers in fatal accidents were 50 years of age or older. Nine out of 10 people over the age of 65 take one or more prescription drugs and almost 40% take five or more and these medications can potentially affect their driving ability.


Marijuana may be on top of the list of drugs used but drugged driving encompasses the use of a large variety of substances from illegal - heroin, meth, cocaine, PCP to legal such as cough medicines, decongestants or certain antidepressants.


“Whether it’s legal, illegal or over the counter, people just don’t appreciate how dangerous these substances can be when it comes to their driving.” This is according to former National Safety Board member Mark Rosekind.


It is because of this that groups such as NTSB, AAA and other safety advocates are in a race to overtake this road safety threat.


Take time to read Part 2 of this article. Part 2 focuses on Roadblocks to establishing standards for impaired driving caused by substances other than alcohol, and it also takes a look at accidents related to drugged driving.


Tags: Drugged Driving, Drug Menace, drugged driving cases, safe driving,