Between the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in many states and the ever-increasing prescription drug epidemic, more and more people are driving under the influence of drugs. In fact, one in three fatally injured drivers tested positive for medication or illegal drugs, and over one in five drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could impair driving skills. And while efforts to prevent drunk driving are numerous (and successful) few people are talking about the consequences of drugged driving.
That’s likely because drugged driving is difficult to enforce, differing from drunk driving in terms of enforcement, prosecution, and detection. An estimated 17 to 27 percent of drunk drivers have also used drugs while driving, but police officers responding to a crash usually opt to perform field sobriety and breathalyzer tests to see if a drunk driving arrest can be made. Unless there is a fatality, many local and state jurisdictions simply don’t test for medications or illegal drug use. What’s more, there is no standard on what constitutes impairment.
The result of this is that the data on crashes, fatalities, arrests, and convictions does not accurately reflect the problem of drugged driving. And that means that driver education programs don’t feel the need to focus on this issue the way they do drunk driving. Data is needed to provide information about the risks of drugged driving. The more we know, the easier it will be to prevent drugged driving and save lives.
Sources:”What Do We Really Know About Drugged Driving? – Conference 365.” Conference 365 What Do We Really Know About Drugged Driving Comments. N.p., 2016. Web. 22 June 2016.