Driving Under the Influence of Any Drug Could Be Dangerous
We are all aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. High profile campaigns over the years have done an effective job of educating drivers. Focused efforts on the part of the police and lawmakers to stop the dangerous practice have resulted in some recent improvement in drunk driving fatalities. However, driving under the influence of drugs has not received nearly the same level of concern. Given the rise in drugged driving accidents, it probably should be.
How Drugs Affect Driving
The effect a drug has on a person’s ability to drive depends greatly on the type of drug and how much was taken. It is important to be aware, however, that even legal over-the-counter or prescription drugs can influence a driver’s ability to drive safely. Many people ignore warning labels to “not drive or operate heavy machinery,” but that warning is there because the drug is known to cause drowsiness or slow reaction times.
Illegal substances can have an effect similar to that of alcohol, impairing judgment and reaction times in drivers. In general, any substance that alters normal brain or physical function will impact the ability to drive. Some of the driving skills that can be affected by drugs include:
- Coordination. Substances that affect nerve or muscle function will alter the ability to steer, brake, accelerate, and control the vehicle.
- Reaction time. Drugs that cause drowsiness or inattention will cause insufficient response and reaction times.
- Judgment. Mind-altering drugs have cognitive effects, such as alteration in normal risk reduction behavior, ability to avoid potential hazards, and changes in anticipation, risk-taking behavior, attention, exhilaration, and self-control.
- Tracking. The ability to stay in a lane and maintain following distance can be compromised.
- Attention. A brain on drugs is divided and not focused. The high demand for information processing required while driving is severely affected.
- Perception. It’s been estimated that 90% of the information processed by our brain while driving is visual and that processing is negatively impacted by drug use.
How Will You Know If the Driver Who Hit You Was on Drugs?
One of the reasons there has not been a legislative or law enforcement focus on stopping drugged driving is that, unlike drunk driving, it is hard to detect in a traffic stop. However, if you suspect the person who caused your car crash may have been under the influence of drugs, you need the help of an experienced car crash attorney. Call the offices of Attorney Steve Lee at 800-232-3711 to see how we can help.