Most adults in the United States are well-aware of the dangers of drunk driving. After all, they learned about it in high school, and they’ve heard about it most their life from campaigns from local, state, and federal agencies, and organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
What many people do not realize is that America is facing another deadly epidemic – drugged driving. We’re not just talking about driving under the influence of illegal street drugs, like marijuana or LSD, we’re talking about driving under the influence of prescription medications, some of which are lawfully prescribed, some that are not.
In the last 20 years, prescription drug use and abuse has exploded in the United States. In effect, an increasing number of Americans are driving under the influence of prescription medications known to impair judgement, reaction time and coordination – all leading to unsafe driving.
Which Drugs Affect Driving?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Most drugs of abuse can alter a person’s thinking and judgement, leading to health risks, including addiction, drugged driving and infectious disease.”
The main prescription drugs of concern include sedatives (tranquilizers and depressants) and prescription opioids; however, anti-psychotics as well as prescription stimulants meant to enhance focus and attention are also dangerous when combined with alcohol.
Here are just some of the popular drugs that impair driving ability:
- Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien
- Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet
Why Drugged Driving is So Dangerous
Each drug affects the brain differently. For example, cocaine can make people drive more aggressively than usual, whereas sedatives can cause dizziness and extreme drowsiness, leading to crashes. When alcohol is combined with many types of drugs, the sedating effects can be even more intense.
Aside from marijuana, “prescription drugs are also commonly linked to drugged driving crashes,” reports the NIDA. A 2010 nationwide study discovered that of the fatal crashes, 47% of the drivers tested positive for a prescription drug in their system, reported the NIDA. What was the most common prescription drug in drivers’ systems? Prescription pain relievers, according to the NIDA.
To learn more about drugged driving from the NIDA, click here.
Were you injured in a drugged driving crash? Contact our firm for a free case evaluation with a New Jersey car accident attorney!