Drugged driving: Is it as bad as drunk driving?

For decades now, there have been extensive campaigns in place informing drivers across the U.S. of the dangers of drunk driving. Today, every driver should be aware that drunk driving is dangerous and illegal, but there are still people who continue to take the risk. Driving under the influence of alcohol leads to thousands of serious and fatal accidents every year.

Thankfully, statistics suggest that the number of DUI accidents is actually decreasing across the country. But with that decrease comes a troubling increase in another dangerous driving behavior: drugged driving.

A recent report found that more accidents are being caused by drivers who are under the influence of prescription drugs and marijuana. The increase in fatal accidents caused by a drugged driver is so significant that it is now roughly the same as the number of those caused by drunk driving.

The report notes that 38 percent of the victims in fatal car crashes in 2013 tested positively for having some type of drug in their system.

In many cases, according to the study, the drugs found were marijuana or stimulants that are often found in common prescription medications. When drivers are under the influence of these types of substances, they may not even realize how much they are affected by them. But the fact is marijuana can slow reflexes considerably while stimulants can lead to recklessness and inattentiveness.

Researchers believe that the increase in drugged driving is due to several factors, including the growing acceptance of marijuana use and lacking drugged driving legislation. Another potential contributing factor in the increase could be the widespread use of prescription drugs.

There have been numerous recommendations for how to address this issue, including uniform legislation to assign a legal limit for marijuana in states where use is lawful and better training for police officers so they can spot potentially drug-impaired drivers before they can cause a serious accident.

Unless and until these and other remedies are in place, people all across Tampa could be at an increased risk of being injured or killed by a driver impaired by legal or illegal drugs.

Source: CNN, “Driving while drugged now just as deadly as drunk driving,” Carina Storrs, Oct. 1, 2015

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