Drug Impaired Driving is driving under the influence of any prescription, over the counter or illegal drug (1).
The problem of driving under the influence of drugs:
- In 2015, drugs were present in 43% of fatally-injured drivers with a known test result which was more than alcohol (1).
- Drug impaired driving is complicated because of several factors:
- There are hundreds of different types of drugs.
- Users react differently to different drugs and can experience different effects of the same drug. This is also true of doses where the same dose may impact individuals differently.
- Drugs can stay in the system longer than alcohol, for example, traces of marijuana use can be detected in blood samples several weeks after heavy chronic users stop ingestion (1).
Marijuana Impaired Driving:
- After alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly found drug in fatal rashes
- In 2016, roughly 1 in 5 young adults reported being current users of marijuana (2).
- Daily marijuana use has more than tripled in the past two decades among college students (4).
- Marijuana use is increasing, and 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system. (1,3)
- Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability (5).
- According to a review by Kelly, Dark, and Ross, laboratory studies examining the effects of marijuana on skills utilized while driving detected impairments in tracking, attention, reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, vigilance, time and distance perception, decision making, and concentration (6).
Other Drugs – Prescription and Synthetic:
- About one in four college students has illegally use prescription drugs (7).
- Overall, young adults are most likely to abuse the prescribed stimulants Adderall(60%), Ritalin (20%) and Vyvanse(14%) (8).
- 11,406 ER visits in 2010 were associated with synthetic Marijuana. 75% were among those ages 12-29. 22.5% of these visits involved females and 77.5% involved males (4).
- Between January and May 2015, Poison Control Centers reported 3,572 calls related to synthetic marijuana use, a 229 percent increase from the 1,085 calls during the same period last year (8).
- Spice abusers who have been taken to emergency rooms report symptoms including rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, reduced blood supply to the heart, vomiting, agitation, confusion, and hallucinations (8).
- GHSA, Drug Impaired Driving, A guide for states, 2017 [cited 2018 July 8]. Available at URL: https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2017-07/GHSA_DruggedDriving2017_FINAL_revised.pdf
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2016
- National Institute of Drug Abuse
- Learn About Marijuana Washington State