The Governors Highway Safety Association issued a report which states that although the number of drunk drivers has decreased over the past years, the number of people who drive under the influence of drugs has increased.
In 2013 about 40 percent of the people who had been involved in car crashes, tested positive for drug use. According to the report, about one third of the drivers tested positive for marijuana.
Currently, there is not enough quality data regarding the effects that drugs can have on drivers. A person can test positive for marijuana even one week after they used the drug, although the effects of the drug are not longer present. Having said that, it is possible for a driver who tests positive for marijuana to be either highly intoxicated, or completely sober.
The term ‘drugs’ covers a large spectrum from misused medication such as muscle relaxants, sleeping pills, blood pressure medication, to methamphetamine (meth) and other severe drugs.
Jim Hedlund, a former official at the National Highway Safety Administration, stated that all of these drugs can affect the cognitive and behavioural abilities of the driver, putting him and others in a great danger.
The reports concentrate mostly on the use of marijuana, since four states in the U.S. – Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Alaska – have legalised marijuana for recreational use, and 23 other states have legalised it for medical use.
Federal scientists are trying to figure out the difference between alcohol and marijuana impairment.
According to Hedland the cases in which people drive under the influence of drugs are becoming more and more frequent, as opposed to the drunk driving cases.
Hedland notes a major change in the drivers’ mentality: “In the past 40 or 50 years, the message changed from ‘one for the road’ to ‘who is the designated driver?”
Since many drivers from Colorado refused to believe that the use of marijuana can affect their cognitive and behavioural activities when driving, the state officials launched a campaign called ‘Drive high, get a DUI’.
Glenn Davis, a manager of the highway safety in Colorado, said that driving high or driving drunk ultimately leads to an increased risk of car crashes. The state officials should issue more anti drugged-driving campaigns in order to raise awareness.
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