Drugged Driving: What you need to know
We have been hearing the message “don’t drink and drive” for years. But our world has a host of other influences that lead to harm on the roads. Drugged driving is on the rise.
Like alcohol, drug use can impair reactions and judgment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has researched commonly abused drugs. Marijuana can decrease motor skills. Cocaine and methamphetamine can spur aggressive behavior. Sedatives can cause drowsiness. Even high doses of cough syrup can cause dizziness and slurred speech.
Driving under any influence is a risk. Some states have legalized the use of certain drugs, making access to them easier. Other states have a zero-tolerance for drugged driving. Now comes the real test: how much is too much?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has quoted several research studies linking the use of illicit, prescription or over-the-counter drug use and driving impairment. In 2013, research from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported an estimated 9.9 million have driven under the influence of drugs.
While it is known that drugged driving poses a great risk, it is still difficult to put a number on it. Roadside tests to measure the drug levels in drivers do not currently exist. States are struggling to identify the appropriate blood level that impairs driving ability. Even more challenging: when combined with alcohol, there is no way to know which substance has the larger effect on impaired judgment or reactive skills.
Take control of your own situations
As with alcohol, make smart, responsible decisions. Be aware that what you or those around you consume has an effect. Marijuana use is a leading concern. Even prescription drug use among those over the age of 50 poses risk. In many cases, those over the age of 50 are taking a combination of prescription drugs for a slew of health reasons. Keep in mind that combinations of drugs and alcohol can be lethal.
Plan your events. Avoid parties where drugs and alcohol will be present. Offer to be a designated driver or appoint someone to this duty. Have a cab number programmed into your phone.
Do not underestimate the impact of drugs. Know the hidden dangers.
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