Staying Safe and Sober: FAQs About Drugged Driving (H1)
Around 20 to 50 million people around the world get caught into a road traffic crash each year, which leads to the death of over 1 million of them. This is according to the data collated by the World Health Organization that has been published this year.
There are many reasons why road accidents happen, and one of them is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or drugged driving. Since this is the most concerning issue among others, government agencies make an effort to harness awareness and set up action plans in preventing this. For example, those who hold or are in the process of obtaining a commercial driver’s license are required to enroll in a DOT Drug and Alcohol Test consortium and get tested.
Drugged driving is indeed dangerous, but, unfortunately, not many people are aware of its risks. This article lists down some of the facts and figures related to this topic. Read on to learn useful information, like the common drugs used and laws surrounding the issue.
What Is Drugged Driving, and What Dangers Does It Pose?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines “drugged driving” as being impaired while driving a vehicle due to the intoxicating effects of the drugs the user has taken. It is illegal in all 50 states in the country because of the inherent danger that comes with it. For instance, a driver can be caught in an accident that will cause them to suffer injuries, ranging from minor concussions to fatal conditions.
Drugged driving does not only affect and trouble the user. After all, if a traffic collision were to occur, everyone near the vicinity is put at great risk, including fellow operators or motorists, pedestrians, and bystanders. It can also cause great damage to property, both public (such as road signs and barriers) and private (such as roadside establishments and vehicles owned by other people).
How Often Does Drugged Driving Happen?
In 2017 alone, over 12 million individuals who are 16 years and older drove after using illicit drugs. This is ؘbased on a report of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Illicit drugs refer to highly addictive substances that are illegal to be made, taken, or sold, such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Also, in 2016, nearly half of the drivers who were killed in a road crash tested positive for drugs, like amphetamine and marijuana. This is according to a separate study conducted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA).
What Drugs Are Commonly Used, and How Do They Affect Drivers?
Illicit drugs impair a person’s senses and ability to process information, which makes it difficult for them to think and judge based on different circumstances. Here are some of the drugs commonly used by people involved in drugged driving, according to NIDA:
- Marijuana – In certain amounts, it can lead to drowsiness and hallucination. It also severely hinders a driver’s cognitive functions, which slows down reaction time and impairs distance perception.
- Methamphetamine – This drug can cause aggressive behavior, causing drivers to drive recklessly and fail to think about other road users.
- Opioids – Using heroin and other opioids can result in severe drowsiness. Drivers under the influence of this drug find it hard to stay awake and keep their focus on the road.
- Alcohol – Drivers who are drunk commonly feel drowsy or woozy, so they cannot concentrate on what they are doing.
What Are the Laws Implemented to Prevent Drugged Driving?
While drugged driving is illegal across the country, laws about it are nuanced, and they heavily vary in every state. Some states enforce the “zero tolerance” policy, which makes it illegal for a person to drive if they have any amount of drugs in their body. According to GHSA, 16 states are observing this policy. On the other hand, there are states that employ “per se” laws. These prohibit an individual from driving only if the amount of drugs in their body exceeds the limits set by a specific state.
Alcohol influence is another issue. Across the US, if a person has a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08g/dL, they are prohibited from driving. The law is even stricter for commercial drivers who are participating in a DOT Drug and Alcohol Test consortium. They cannot drive if the BAC exceeds 0.02g/dL.
These are just some of the important things you need to know about drugged driving. If you wish to further understand this issue and how it affects society, the best way to learn is to attend and participate in conferences and seminars spearheaded by government agencies.