While drunk driving has been getting the attention of law enforcement and the press for years, it may perhaps be time to turn equal attention to the problem with drugged driving. Driving under the influence of a controlled substance or even one’s own validly prescribed prescription medication can be just as dangerous as driving after having one too many drinks.
Many drugs can affect a person’s ability to think fast and physically respond to a sudden change, both skills that are essential while on the road. In short, those who choose to ingest drugs or certain types of medication and then drive are putting others on Nevada’s roads of being injured in a serious car crash that is, in reality, just preventable as a drunk driving accident.
Although further research will likely still need to be done, the statistics of one government agency suggest that the problem with drugged driving is getting worse. In a relatively recent study, for instance, one in five drivers tested positive for drugs in their system when traveling on the weekend and in the nighttime hours. To be fair, having drugs in one’s system isn’t necessarily the same as being under the influence of drugs, but it is at least a sign that people who use drugs with some frequency are on the roads. This same study noted that, between 2013 and 2014, almost 25 percent of drivers tested had potentially impairing chemicals in their system.
One can always hope that stepped-up law enforcement efforts and increased awareness about the dangers of drugged driving will help as the years go on. However, it is important for Reno residents to remember that even now, they may have legal options available to them if they are injured in an accident caused by a drugged driver.