Why Substance-Impaired Driving Continues To Put Floridians at Risk
Despite ever-increasing harsh penalties for drinking and driving, the problem of impaired driving is still an exceptionally serious problem on our roadways. Why is that?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day, 29 people in the U.S. die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 50 minutes. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion.
Furthermore, the CDC’s Drug-Impaired Fact Sheet states that driving while impaired is illegal in the U.S. Impaired driving happens when someone operates a vehicle while impaired by a substance like marijuana, other illicit drugs, some prescribed or over-the-counter medicines, or alcohol. Polysubstance use (using more than one drug or using drugs and alcohol together) increases the dangers of driving exponentially.
According to CNN, marijuana use among young adults, especially college students, has been steadily increasing, and the numbers are pretty high, according to a new report. The article, recently published by The American Academy of Pediatrics, is based on the results of the 2002-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which examined marijuana and smoked tobacco use among 18- to 22-year-olds in the US. The survey analyzed the use of marijuana and tobacco within the past 30 days and the past 12 months.
Essentially, marijuana-impaired driving is replacing alcohol-impaired driving, and then some. This is a primary reason why substance-impaired driving continues to be a risk. If you’ve been involved in an impaired driving accident, contact a Florida car accident attorney at Searcy Denney. We can help you recover all of the financial compensation you deserve.
Marijuana Isn’t the Only Culprit
There are many other drugs that impair driving. For example:
- As we know, marijuana can cause judgment problems, decreased coordination, and slower reaction times.
- Cocaine and methamphetamine may increase aggression and recklessness among drivers.
- Heroin and opioid users may actually pass out while driving.
- When two or more drugs are combined while driving, the effects of any one of them can be amplified.
- There are prescription and over-the-counter medications that can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and other side effects. It is important to read all labels before taking medications to understand safety while driving and in general.
Damages Caused by Drug-Impaired Driving
Drug-impaired driving can damage both people and entire communities in a number of ways that may sound familiar since many types of damage are identical or similar to the damage caused by drunk driving. Some of the most common damage caused by drug-impaired driving may include:
- Drug-impaired drivers, their passengers, other drivers on the road, bicyclists, and pedestrians can be seriously injured or even killed.
- Public and private property, including vehicles, can be damaged or completely destroyed.
- Motor vehicle insurance rates generally rise across the board.
- Families affected by drug-impaired drivers may suffer financially and emotionally for extended periods of time, especially when family members are severely or permanently injured or killed.
- Injured victims, their families, and their employers can suffer financial losses when injured persons cannot work or perform with less effectiveness.
- Police and other public resources, such as hospitals, courts, jails and prisons, drug-testing centers, drug-treatment providers, and probation offices, are stretched to the breaking point trying to enforce drug-impaired driving.
- Traffic flow slows, sometimes to a standstill, for up to hours during traffic crashes related to drug-impaired driving.
- Positive drug tests may have immediate and future consequences on employment eligibility.
- Drug testing can be expensive and time-consuming for people and communities.
- Drug-impaired drivers contribute to the illicit drug trade.
- Drug-impaired drivers may create liability concerns for all types of healthcare professionals.
Are There Any Solutions?
The primary problem is that even if you[‘re driving stone-sober, the drivers around you may not be. A practical solution is to watch for erratic driving, such as drivers swerving across lanes or driving much too slowly. If you see this behavior, avoid those vehicles, even if it means slowing down or speeding up. Note the vehicle’s model, color, and license plate number, pull over to a safe place to stop, and call 911.
Again according to the CDC’s Drug-Impaired Driving Fact Sheet, short-term high-visibility enforcement (HVE) of impaired driving laws involves a brief period of increased police efforts, including sobriety checkpoints or saturation patrols; i.e., an increased number of officers patrolling a specific area. Another effective HVE approach combines law enforcement with paid media to increase awareness of the effort.
Another potential solution laid out by the CDC’s Drug-Impaired Driving Fact Sheet is the use of drug recognition experts (DREs). DREs are law enforcement officers trained to identify drug-impaired driving using a 12-step, standardized evaluation that includes behavioral tests and physical assessments. The DRE evaluation includes breath alcohol testing, eye exams, muscle tone exams, tests such as the One Leg Stand, and other behavioral and physical observations. Blood or urine samples are collected and analyzed if there is sufficient evidence that a driver is impaired by a drug other than or in addition to alcohol.
Let a Florida Car Accident Attorney Help You Recover Financial Compensation if You’ve Been Involved in an Impaired Driving Accident
The rise in the use of illicit drugs, including cocaine. methamphetamine, heroin, opioids, and especially marijuana have more than replaced alcohol, and accidents involving these drugs have risen accordingly. If you’ve been the victim of a car accident, truck accident, watercraft or boating accident where the other driver was driving impaired, a Florida car accident attorney can help with your insurance and legal claims. At Searcy Denney, we work entirely on a contingency fee basis, with no risk to you. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.