Use of any psychoactive (mind-altering) drug makes it highly unsafe to drive a car and is illegal—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged driving puts at risk not only the driver but also passengers and others who share the road. The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on how they act in the brain, but all impair faculties necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle. These faculties include motor skills, balance and coordination, perception, attention, reaction time, and judgment. Even small amounts of some drugs can have a measurable effect on driving ability.
Prescription drugs, marijuana, and multiple drug combinations are frequently found in the blood of drivers involved in fatal car crashes on US roads, according to a new study in Public Health Reports.
Gone are the days when drunk drivers were our only concernalcohol is but one of MANY drugs that can make you dangerous behind the wheel. And now many people are on multiple drug cocktails, especially prescription drugs, which multiplies their impairment.
In 1993, about one in eight drivers were using more than one drug, but by 2010, it was closer to one in five. The number of drivers with three or more drugs in their system nearly doubled in this period, increasing from 11.5 to 21.5 percent. Study author Fernando Wilson of the University of Nebraska Medical Center adds:
“Beyond that, we're also seeing more and more people using drugs and alcohol together. About 70 percent of drivers who tested positive …
Many prescription drugs including opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepenes prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders come with warnings against the operation of machinery—including motor vehicles—for a specified period of time after use. When prescription drugs are abused (taken without medical supervision), impaired driving and other harmful reactions become much more likely.
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