While the consequences of impaired driving due to alcohol consumption have gained awareness over recent years, the subject of drugged driving has received fairly limited attention, despite its similarly devastating effects.
In 2007, there were approximately 9.9 million people aged twelve or older who reported driving under the influence of an illicit drug during the past year. In 2007, the rate was highest among young adults aged 18 to 25 (12.5 percent) (National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2007). Furthermore, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research reveals that drugs other than alcohol are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths. Additional research indicates that marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers. Often, marijuana and other drugs are used in combination with alcohol (NHTSA 2003).
Like alcohol, marijuana and other drugs impair a person's ability to drive safely due to decreased alertness, concentration, coordination and reaction time. In fact, after smoking marijuana, such effects can last up to 24 hours.
The following links provide information specific to drugged driving, including practical advice on steps parents can take to talk to teenagers about its harmful effects: