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
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,
Were you injured in a drugged driving crash?
Contact our firm for a free case evaluation with a New Jersey car accident attorney!