Drugged Driving In December: 10 Statistics & Safety Tips!
December is overwhelmingly associated with Christmas for most Americans, but trees and lights and presents aren’t the only things that the month is known for; December is also National Drunk & Drugged Driving Prevention Month, or “3D” Prevention Month. That’s because according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is considered to be one of the “deadliest and most dangerous times on America’s roadways due to an increase in impaired driving”.
Drunk driving is typically the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word “impaired”, particularly around the holidays. However, drugged driving is also a serious – and less spoken-of – problem during this time of year, which is why we wanted to take this blog to offer a few key statistics that every driver should know before diving head first into the season, as well as a few important safety tips that could save your life or the life of someone you love.
As personal injury lawyers in Florida, we unfortunately meet injured victims of drugged driving accidents frequently in our course of work. At The Florida Law Group, our goal is to make the state safer for all drivers on the road by educating the public on the dangers of drugged driving, holding drugged drivers accountable for their actions, and helping victims get justice through the legal system! If you’ve been hit and injured by a drugged driver, call our experienced attorneys immediately to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights and options.
5 Key Statistics On Drugged Driving:
1. In 2018, 12.6 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), this number was more than the number of people aged 16 or older who drove under the influence of alcohol (7.9 million). Drugged driving, especially as the recreational use of drugs becomes more accepted by society and by the law, may become a bigger problem than drunk driving, and the statistics certainly support that possibility.
2. The number of drivers in Washington who test positive for marijuana after a fatal crash has doubled from 9% to 18% since the drug was legalized there for recreational use.
Legalization has clearly had an impact on the amount of drugged driving crashes and deaths, and Washington is not the only state where this is true. In Colorado, the number of fatalities in crashes where drivers tested positive for THC rose from 18 in 2013 (the years after recreational marijuana was legalized) to 77 in 2016, a massive jump. In a report by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission that was released in 2018, it was shown that less than 1 in 10 daytime drivers were under the influence of marijana prior to legalization; now, 1 in 5 daytime drivers may be under the influence.
3. Impairment from cannabis persists for 24 hours after feelings of intoxication may be gone.
This is one of the things that may make drugged driving even more dangerous than drunk driving; for up to a full day after the person “feels” as though they’re fine to drive, they still may not be, whereas the effects of alcohol may wear off faster. All drugs have some effect – marijuana can slow reaction times and decrease coordination, cocaine or meth can lead to aggression and recklessness, prescription drugs like opiates can cause drowsiness and impair judgement. Any of these effects can cause a crash, injuries, and deaths.
4. The proportion of drivers that tested positive for opioids nearly doubled from before the pandemic (7.5%) to during the pandemic (13-14%).
This trend echoes the fact that the pandemic led to more accidents and fatalities, not less, contrary to what you would think when more people stayed at home. While people were on the road less, those who were on the road – perhaps because the roads weren’t as crowded, or they were dealing with their own stress – engaged in riskier driving behaviors, including drugged driving.
5. 1 in 6 college students with access to a car have driven under the influence of a drug other than alcohol at least once in the past year.
Young adults and elderly adult drivers are those most affected by drugged driving. The party scene in college and the fact that young driver overestimate their abilities accounts for that age group; for senior adults, unintended intoxication from taking a prescription drug incorrectly or having prescription drugs cause side effects is the main reason that they are affected by drugged driving.
5 Safety Tips For Drivers This Holiday Season
You can’t control what another driver chooses to do, but there are a few steps you can take this December to keep you and your family as safe as possible from tragedies that result from drugged driving:
1. Don’t get behind the wheel while impaired, ever!
There’s no excuse for getting behind the wheel impaired by drugs. Drugs affect your ability to safely operate a vehicle, and you could seriously injure or kill others on the road if you choose to drive before you are completely sober. As we mentioned above, drugs can stay in your system for over 24 hours, so plan ahead to have another driver or stay where you are at.
2. Check any medications before you drive.
Especially if you are taking more than one medication or are taking a new medication, read the dosage information carefully and consult with your physician or a pharmacist if you have questions. Don’t drive until you are certain of how it will affect you!
3. Don’t let friends or family members get behind the wheel impaired.
If you knowingly allow a friend or family member to get behind the wheel impaired, whether or not you are in the vehicle, you are in some way responsible for any harm they cause, not only morally, but legally. You could be charged with a crime like reckless endangerment, or sued by the victims in civil court for not stopping the impaired driver.
4. If you’re hosting a party where drugs or alcohol will be present, make sure guests leave sober.
Legally, you cannot be held responsible (because Florida has no social host liability law) if someone gets drunk or drugged at your holiday party, drives away, and injures someone else, but it is a heavy burden to carry if that does occur. You could save someone’s life by cutting a friend off, arranging an Uber for them, or altering the authorities if they refuse to listen to you.
5. Wear your seatbelt, and make sure everyone in your vehicle wears one too.
The best defense against drugged drivers once you are out on the road with them is to follow the rules of the road and take every precaution in the event of a collision. That means, primarily, wearing your seatbelt, and ensuring your children wear theirs. It means getting regular car maintenance to ensure that your brakes and airbag are functional. It means driving the speed limit, not following too closely, and changing lanes predictably.
Injured By A Drugged Driver? Call The Florida Law Group!
Our hope is that no one is involved in an accident with a drugged driver this December, but the statistics say that some Florida drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians probably will be. If you or a family member has been harmed by an impaired driver’s negligent actions, call our experienced attorneys for a free consultation. We’ve recovered over $1 billion for injured accident victims across the state since 1984, and you don’t pay us unless we win your case.