A roadside traffic survey found more people tested positive for other drugs than alcohol during both the weekday and weekend1.
The problem of driving under the influence of drugs:
- Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes2.
- Drug impaired driving is complicated because of several factors:
- 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 ingestion1.
Marijuana Impaired Driving:
- Daily or almost daily use of marijuana (used on 20 or more days in the past month) increased from 5.1 million persons in 2005 to 2007 to 8.1 million persons in 20133.
- Daily marijuana use has more than tripled in the past two decades among college students4.
- Marijuana use is increasing, and 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system1,3.
- Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability5.
- 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 concentration6.
Other Drugs – Prescription and Synthetic:
- About one in four college students has illegally use prescription drugs7.
- 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 males4.
- 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 year9.
- 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 hallucinations9.
- Berning, A., Compton, R. & Wochinger, K., 2015. Results of the 2013-2014 national roadside survey of alcohol and drug use by drivers, Traffic Safety Facts, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, DOT HS 812 118
- Compton RP, Berning A. Traffic Safety Facts Research Note: drugs and alcohol crash risk. Washington, DC: NHTSA; 2015 [cited 2016 Feb 5]. Available at URL:http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/812117-Drug_and_Alcohol_Crash_Risk.pdf.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2013
- National Institute of Drug Abuse
- Learn About Marijuana Washington State