Drugged driving is not drunk driving.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner after her daughter, Cari, was killed by a repeat drunk driving offender. She was soon joined by Cindy Lamb—whose daughter, Laura, became the nation’s youngest quadriplegic at the hands of a drunk driver. Together they launched what’s become a massive grassroots movement and according to its website, one that has saved nearly 300,000 lives to date.
But drunk driving is not drugged driving. Drugged driving is driving while impaired by legal or illegal drugs, and the impacts of drugs on the brain is much the same as that of alcohol. “Drugs acting on the brain can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, and other faculties required for safe driving.” Not only that, but “the effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the amount consumed, the history of the user, and other factors.” (NIDA Drugged Driving | Drug Facts)
Difficult to Create and Enforce Drugged Driving Laws
Unlike driving under the influence of alcohol, however, which can be measured with a breathalyzer to determine the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), there is no similar mechanism to measure drug levels. Additionally, a specific measurement by drug type identifying impairment levels (a measurement similar to the .08 BAC used in the U.S., for example) has not been identified.
Nonetheless, it’s imperative we do what we can to raise awareness and to design more effective drugged driving prevention laws (see statistics below). For it is not only the person driving who is harmed, it is their passenger(s), the person(s) in the other car(s) and all of the family members of everyone involved when a person drives while impaired by drugs.
Statistics on Drugged Driving
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications. More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs.1
- Another NHTSA study found that in 2009, among fatally injured drivers, 18 percent tested positive for at least one drug (e.g., illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter), an increase from 13 percent in 2005.2
- According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 10.5 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.3
For More information on Drugged Driving
NHSTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) Drugs and Human Performance Facts Sheets (Links for Various Drugs – left column)
References from Source Article Drugged Driving | Drug Facts | NIDA
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Results of the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. U.S. Department of Transportation Report No. DOT HS 811 175. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2007.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers. U.S. Department of Transportation Report No. DOT HS 811 415. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2010.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Office of Applied Studies, 2010.