Drunk Driving Rates Lower as Drivers Get High
Over the past 35 years, organizations like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and government agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have been diligently working to eliminate drunk driving and DWI accidents. You’re probably familiar with the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign and the “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” movement, both of which were started by such dedicated agencies. As a result of these education and enforcement campaigns (and others like them), drunk driving rates have significantly decreased over the past decade.
Unfortunately, a new substance has taken its place as a preferred driver distraction. That substance?—drugs.
Increase in Stoned Drivers Leads to Risky Accident Downfalls
The latest crusade to have marijuana legalized throughout the United States—as of June 2015, 23 states have accepted legalization (Texas not being one of them)—has caused an influx of users across the drug spectrum. Unfortunately, drivers aren’t the only thing getting high. Drugged driving incidents and accidents are also on the rise as a majority of these users can and do drive while under the influence.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, in conjunction with the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, recently published findings on drugged driving. This report identified that nearly 22% of drivers killed in traffic accidents tested positive for drugs (marijuana, amphetamines, etc.), as opposed to 42% testing positive for alcohol. When dealing with a smaller group, let’s say college students, the data became even more surprising. It was found that out of college marijuana users, one in three drove after marijuana use and nearly half of those questioned rode with a driver who had recently been using.
Although the specific cognitive effects of marijuana have not been determined, any drug (legal, illegal, prescribed or over-the-counter) can have adverse effects on a person’s ability to concentrate and control his actions. When you combine these effects with a fast-moving vehicle, you get dangerous results—and no amount of drugs or “high” can prepare you for the aftermath of causing a collision.
GHSA Recommendations for Drugged Driving Campaigns
As a result of these findings, as well as the increase in potential drugged driving accidents, the GHSA has made recommendations to federal and state officials. Akin to the DWI campaigns, these recommendations are meant to help states better refine their efforts in detecting and deterring drug-impaired drivers. These recommendations include the following platforms:
- Education. Increase drug safety courses while focusing on the risks of using drugs while driving.
- Research. Focus on gathering and analyzing past and present accident data, as well as the effects of drugs and their ability to impair driving.
- Assessment and reevaluation. Assess data and update drug laws accordingly for safety purposes.
- Training. Introduce advanced drug training for police, prosecutors, and judges.
- Enforcement. Increase police involvement, penalties, and treatment referrals for offenders when needed.
Make sure your family and friends are aware of their driving risks. Use your social media to share this page with them, or encourage them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident that involved a drugged driver.
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