Although fatalities from automobile accidents are declining, a recent traffic analysis from the Department of Transportation (DOT) indicates that 33% of drivers killed in such accidents in 2010 tested positive for illicit drugs. The most popular among these drugs were prescription grade opiates / opiods (Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Clonipin). The illicit drug most frequently implicated in traffic fatalities: marijuana.
Society has become familiar with the terrible consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. However, many do not realize the hazards of driving under the influence of drugs and medications. The drugs listed above, including those prescribed by a physician, can impair judgment, motor skills, reaction time, and perception, all of which are essential to operating a vehicle safely. Recent surveys by the DOT show that roughly one in four fatalities in accidents test positive for illegal prescription drugs.
Drugged driving poses threats to public safety, as evidenced by the number of fatal accidents on our highways each year. Public education combined with successful substance abuse/education programs can help family members, friends, and loved ones reduce drugged driving.