Although many people only associate driving under the influence with alcohol, drugged driving, or driving under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, has the potential to be just as dangerous. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “10 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed.” This does not take into account legal drugs, such as prescription drugs or marijuana in some states.
Drivers under the influence of marijuana, which is the most common drug involved in drugged driving crashes, are more distracted, have a reduced capability to react, and weave through lanes more often. It could also lead to reduced coordination and reaction time, as well as poor judgment.
Looking at the data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1999-2010, researchers found that the number of fatal crashes involving marijuana tripled during that period of time, according to the American Journal of Epidemiology. In 1999, 3.2 percent of the non-alcohol drugs associated with fatal crashes involved marijuana. In 2010, that percent had risen to 12.2 percent. Despite the increase in fatal car crashes, there was no significant difference in the number of people who self-reported driving under the influence of other drugs not including alcohol in that same time period.
The study only looked at data from six states, including West Virginia, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Illinois and California. Some of the rise might be associated with medical marijuana laws enacted in three of the states: Hawaii, Rhode Island, and California. The numbers for California saw a significant increase after the legalization of medical marijuana. As marijuana continues to be legalized for medical use and recreational use, there is the chance that it might continue to rise despite drugged driving laws.