For many years, the primary focus for preventing impaired driving was aimed at alcohol. Although drunk driving is certainly a deadly activity, people under the influence of other substances have quietly become just as lethal.
A recent report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility presented some disturbing facts about drugged driving, but also issue recommendations on how to reduce this problem nationally as well as on a state level. “Every state must take steps to reduce drug-impaired driving, regardless of the legal status of marijuana,” said Jonathan Adkins, Executive Director of GHSA. “This is the first report to provide states and other stakeholders with the information they need.”
One of the areas of concern includes the increase in the number of people driving under the influence of marijuana. As the report notes, 23 states now have medical marijuana laws and four have approved recreational use. This has meant a larger percentage of people on the roads who are high.
Even more of an issue is the number of people who are driving after taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Whether following prescription dosage or abusing them, these substances can often impair people more than they realize. Too many people operate vehicles after taking these drugs under the assumption that it is perfectly fine. However, impaired is still impaired.
The most disastrous scenario is when people drink and take drugs, as the combination of use creates greater impairment and causes more harm. Many times the effects of both the alcohol and the drugs are amplified by each other, and there are also additional symptoms as a result.
The Governors Highway Safety Association recommends that each state review its drugged driving laws and also invests in more information and awareness campaigns regarding the behavior.