22 Oct U.S. Campaign Targets Drugged Driving
It is no secret that drugs negatively impact a person’s ability to make sound judgments, perform simple motor skill functions and react quickly. Alcohol produces similar impairments. Drunk driving is a problem that has garnered public outcry and reprisal. Drugged driving is a lesser-known but equally serious problem that has recently been brought to the public’s attention.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy has issued a federal report sounding the alarm about the growing problem of drug use by U.S. automobile drivers. The report reveals that many traffic fatalities are connected to drug use. The report was based on data pertaining to federal highway fatalities in 2009. That year, 14,000 bodies of people who died in automobile crashes were tested for drugs. One-third of that number tested positive for drugs.
The report revealed other, more specific findings:
- If the victim was 45 or older, they were more likely to test positive for narcotics and/or depressants.
- Accident victims under 24 years of age were more apt to test positively for marijuana.
- More disconcerting still, 48 percent of the dead drivers whose tests proved positive for drugs also tested positive for alcohol.
The American public is well aware of the dangers of drunk driving. Increasingly, data is revealing that drugged driving represents another serious public concern. This is particularly the case for 15v to 20vyearvolds, a group already considered at high risk for vehicular accidents. Transit authorities, families of drugged driving victims and the highest powers of the land are looking to address this new tragedy.
State highway authorities have spoken out urging lawmakers to act more aggressively when it comes to dealing with drugged driving. The White House recently scheduled a summit on the issue. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is launching a national effort to draw attention to the problem. Some highway authorities speaking to the issue say they are seeking a state/national partnership similar to the joint efforts currently exerted to combat drunk driving.
Two specific strategies have been suggested so far to address the problem:
- States should hand down separate and distinct prescribed penalties for drinking and for drugged driving.
- Drug testing for fatally injured automobile drivers should be mandatory.
Much attention has been rightly given to the problem of drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car to drive. State, national and citizen-led campaigns against the dangerous practice of drinking and driving abound on top of strictly enforced laws to the same effect.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that alcohol is not the only culprit contributing to substance-related traffic fatalities. Drug abuse is also becoming a growing problem for those who travel on and those who monitor the safety of our national roads and highways. voices are being raised to sound the alarm.
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