Drunk driving is less common today than ever, but a disturbing new trend has risen up to take its place: drugged driving. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that there have been 33% fewer drunk driving arrests on America's roads since 2007. A second report from 2014 shows that almost 25% of people pulled over tested positive for prescription drugs, marijuana, or some other substance which impaired their ability to drive.
The 2014 report was based on a survey conducted every five years, in which drivers may pull over and be tested anonymously at a temporary data-collection center. On a typical weeknight in 2014, 8% of drivers had alcohol in their system, and 1% had more than the legal limit in their bloodstreams. This presented a heartening 80% drop from 1973, when the survey began, and a 30% drop from 2007.
However, the survey also presented a sobering fact: a fifth of weekend-night drivers had drugs in their bloodstreams in 2014, an increase of more than 16% since 2007. Separate findings show that the rate of pot-related DUI arrests has almost doubled. Even so, the relationship between smoking marijuana and car accidents remains contested.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did, however, notice a higher incidence of car accidents among drivers who used marijuana. Clouding the issue is the demographic which is most likely to be involved in these collisions: young men, who are more prone to accidents even while sober.
Drugged driving is not the same as drunk driving. Each type of drug affects the brain in different ways. Drugs which impair the brain's ability to function and thereby have a decisive impact on a driver's ability to operate his or her vehicle, however, are dangerous and strictly illegal to use while driving. The Drug Enforcement Administration found that marijuana limits the brain's ability to react to external stimuli, slow down reflexes, obstruct sound judgment of distance and time, and hamper coordinated movement. Cocaine and methamphetamine may increase drivers' aggression and recklessness, causing them to drive over the speed limit, change lanes without using their indicators, or otherwise drive in an unsafe and hostile manner. According to NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), benzodiazepines cause sleepiness or the feeling of dizziness, which can lead easily lead to an accident.
If you suspect that someone you love is currently or repeatedly driving while under the influence of drugs, call emergency services immediately. For more information about drug rehab and treatment plans, contact our helpful representatives at (877) 257-7997.