There are many awareness campaigns and programs in place to prevent drunk driving in Detroit and across Michigan as well as across the country. Drugged driving gets less attention, but it is an equally serious problem. It is also more pervasive than many motorists realize.
Drivers who take certain controlled substances can become reckless and aggressive while driving a motor vehicle. Drugs such as benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other substances can affect driving ability. Even over-the-counter or prescription medication taken for pain, allergies and the flu can become dangerous behind the wheel of a car. Some of these over-the-counter medicines and prescription medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and other cognitive issues which might lead to road hazards for motorists on the road. All of these drugs can lead to impairment which can in turn lead to collisions.
Marijuana is a drug where some controversy exists over its effects. Some studies have suggested drivers are not necessarily less safe when using marijuana and driving. However, other research studies show that drivers under the influence of marijuana have slower perception time, slower reaction time, shorter attention spans, and are more likely to weave or swerve when driving a vehicle on the road.
Preventing Drugged Driving
Historically, it has been harder for law enforcement to detect and stop drugged driving than it has been to detect and stop drunk driving. The problem stems from the fact that drugged driving encompasses so many different substances. Someone taking an over-the-counter medication, for example, may not necessarily realize their ability to safely drive will be affected. Their reaction to a flu medication will be different than the reaction of someone taking a substance for recreation, although both drivers may be dangerous behind the wheel of their cars. In addition, police do not have the same field sobriety tests for drugged driving as they do for drunk driving, making it harder to isolate and stop drivers who are under the influence.
There’s no doubt that drugged driving is a serious problem in America. In 2014, about 10 million drivers reported driving under the influence of drugs in the past 12 months. However, the most recent 2020 report from National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) summarizes the following alarming research findings:
- Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 58.7 percent (or 162.5 million people) used tobacco, alcohol, or an illicit drug in the past month (also defined as “current use”), including 50.0 percent (or 138.5 million people) who drank alcohol, 18.7 percent (or 51.7 million people) who used a tobacco product, and 13.5 percent (or 37.3 million people) who used an illicit drug.
- Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 22.2 percent (or 61.6 million people) were binge alcohol users in the past month. The percentage was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (31.4 percent or 10.5 million people), followed by adults aged 26 or older (22.9 percent or 50.0 million people), then by adolescents aged 12 to 17 (4.1 percent or 1.0 million people).
- Among the 138.5 million current alcohol users aged 12 or older in 2020, 61.6 million people (or 44.4 percent) were past month binge drinkers. Among past month binge drinkers, 17.7 million people (28.8 percent of current binge drinkers and 12.8 percent of current alcohol users) were past month heavy drinkers.
- Among people aged 12 to 20 in 2020, 16.1 percent (or 6.0 million people) were past month alcohol users. Estimates of binge alcohol use and heavy alcohol use in the past month among underage people were 9.2 percent (or 3.4 million people) and 1.8 percent (or 669,000 people), respectively.
Tobacco Product Use or Nicotine Vaping
- Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 20.7 percent (or 57.3 million people) used tobacco products or used an e-cigarette or other vaping device to vape nicotine in the past month.
- Among people in 2020 who used tobacco products or vaped nicotine in the past month (i.e., nicotine product users), the use of specific nicotine products varied by age group. Nearly two thirds of adolescents aged 12 to 17 who used nicotine products in the past month (63.1 percent) vaped nicotine but did not use tobacco products. Among adults aged 26 or older who used nicotine products in the past month, however, 88.9 percent used only tobacco products.
Illicit Drug Use
- Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 21.4 percent (or 59.3 million people) used illicit drugs in the past year.
- In 2020, marijuana was the most commonly used illicit drug, with 17.9 percent of people aged 12 or older
(or 49.6 million people) using it in the past year. The percentage was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (34.5 percent or 11.6 million people), followed by adults aged 26 or older (16.3 percent or 35.5 million people), then by adolescents aged 12 to 17 (10.1 percent or 2.5 million people).
- Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 3.7 percent (or 10.3 million people) misused central nervous
system (CNS) stimulants in the past year. Among the 10.3 million people who misused CNS stimulants in the past year, about one third used only cocaine (32.4 percent of CNS stimulant misusers or 3.3 million people),
about one third misused only prescription stimulants (32.3 percent of CNS stimulant misusers or 3.3 million people), and about 1 in 7 used only methamphetamine (14.4 percent of CNS stimulant misusers or 1.5 million people). An estimated 353,000 people used or misused all three CNS stimulants in the past year (3.4 percent of CNS stimulant misusers).
- Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 3.4 percent
(or 9.5 million people) misused opioids (heroin or prescription pain relievers) in the past year. Among the 9.5 million people who misused opioids in the past year, 9.3 million people misused prescription pain relievers compared with 902,000 people who used heroin.
- Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 3.3 percent (or 9.3 million people) misused prescription pain relievers in the past year. The percentage was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (4.1 percent or 1.4 million people), followed by adults aged 26 or older (3.4 percent or 7.5 million people), then by adolescents aged 12 to 17 (1.6 percent or 396,000 people).
- In 2020, 2.6 percent of people aged 12 or older (or 7.1 million people) used hallucinogens in the past year. The percentage among young adults aged 18 to 25 (7.3 percent or 2.4 million people) was higher than the percentages among adolescents aged 12 to 17 (1.5 percent or 370,000 people) or adults aged 26 or older (2.0 percent or 4.3 million people).
However, the way that drugs influence individual drivers and the way that they create symptoms when combined together varies widely among people driving a vehicle, making it more difficult to catch drivers who are participating in this risk-taking behavior. In many cases, drug use is discovered only after a motorist has caused an accident and blood is drawn. In fact, as a society we need to find better ways to detect, prevent and end drugged driving before it does cause crashes, wrongful deaths, and injuries.
Suspected Drugged Driving Accident?
If you have been injured by a driver you suspect was drugged, it’s important to contact the police right away. You will also want to contact Joseph Dedvukaj Law for a free consultation. A Detroit drugged driving attorney with Joseph Dedvukaj Law Firm can help you understand whether you have a claim and how much your claim may be worth.
Contact us 24/7 for a free no obligation consultation at 248-352-2110 or toll free 1-866-477-3563 (1-866-HIRE-JOE).