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Drugged Driving – Use of Legalized Drugs Leading to More Crashes

Prescription medicine flask lying on it's side, opened. A pile of different pills and capsules next to it.

We’re all familiar with driving under the influence of alcohol, but drugged driving is a close second in causing accidents while impaired. This can include illegal as well as prescription drugs – even over-the-counter medications.

In fact, a nationwide study of fatal crashes in 2010 found that 46.5 percent of drugged drivers were under the influence of prescription drugs, obtained both legally and illegally. The study shows 36.9 were using marijuana and 9.8 percent were using cocaine. Furthermore, the prescription drugs most commonly associated with car crashes included oxycodone, hydrocodone, alprazolam and diazepam.

Entirely new problem

While laws regarding drugged driving differ between states and can involve both state and federal statutes, the legalization of certain drugs, such as marijuana, for medicinal or recreational use has created an entirely new problem. In some states the stance is zero-tolerance, but in those with more lenient laws, the punishment may be less severe. Therefore, knowledge of your state laws could save you a lot of strife – not to mention, extensive penalties in addition to jail time.

The recent passages of laws that have legalized these drugs have contributed to an increase in fatal car accidents, according to a study in the Journal of Epidemiology. By comparison, in 1999, 4 percent of the total number of fatalities was specifically attributed to marijuana. However, 12 percent of fatal accidents were linked to marijuana in 2012, with that number expected to increase dramatically in 2016.

In addition, the study found that at least one out of every nine drivers involved in a fatal car wreck tested positive for marijuana. Meanwhile, the number of alcohol-impaired accidents remained at approximately the same rate during the study period.

Risk of Drugged Driving

Of course, when you decide to engage in drugged driving, the risk may be the last thing on your mind. But, maybe it should be your first consideration before getting behind the wheel. Case in point: An individual who drives while under the influence of alcohol is typically 13 times more likely to cause a fatal motor vehicle accident than someone who hasn’t been drinking.

If that didn’t get your attention – how about this? If you mix alcohol and marijuana, you’re now about 24 times more likely to not make it to your destination and cause a fatal motor vehicle accident. The result can be loss of human life, serious and potentially life- changing injuries to yourself or other drivers, and incarceration – as well as facing expensive civil lawsuits against you.

Similar studies – similar results

Similar studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had similar results. The agency also reports that 22 percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs with illegal drug use by drivers between the ages of 50 and 59 increasing from 3.4 percent in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2010.

Best way to avoid drugged driving

Avoiding drugged driving isn’t rocket science. The best way to prevent causing a fatal accident or being involved in one is to not drive while drugged. It’s that simple. If you choose to participate in the activity, appoint a designated driver – just as you would after drinking too much.

Also, consult with your doctor any time he or she writes you a prescription for a new drug so you know what to expect. And, whatever you do – never mix prescription, over-the-counter medicines or illegal drugs with alcohol.

Any collision you’re involved in – even while stone-sober – will result in higher auto insurance rates. Why compound your situation by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

If you feel your car insurance premiums are currently too high, why not get a free auto insurance quote online and see how much you could be saving?

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