Drugged Driving: America’s New Problem

March 4th, 2014

Driving High

The first time you try it is the last time you can ever say you’ve never done it.

I try to avoid topics here that aren’t specifically car related, but we’ve reached the point where recreational drug use and cars have collided into a seriously important point of discussion. I live in Washington, where marijuana use is now legal, and people wonder how much their bodies can handle before driving becomes impaired.

It’s hard to avoid the distinct musky smell of the drug hereā€”it fills everything from concert halls to hotel halls.

While I choose not to partake, because I don’t want to artificially alter my mind or endanger myself behind the wheel, plenty of Washingtonians are taking advantage of the new legislation.

I’ve heard two arguments in the Driving While High debate:

  1. The last thing people who use the drug will want to do is get in the car and drive around, so we don’t need to worry about drivers under the influence of marijuana.
  2. Marijuana slows response times, and studies are beginning to show that more and more victims in fatal accidents tend to have pot in their systems.

I try to look at this issue from a personal perspective. On my drive home last night, cruising at about 50 miles per hour on rural roads, I had to quickly brake three times because of deer in the road. Had I been distracted or under the influence of anything, I don’t know that I could have reacted in time to avoid a collision.

A study from 1999 to 2010 found no significant increase in alcohol-related deaths. It also says:

Drugged driving, however, became increasingly common over the period. In 1999, drugs were found in the bloodstreams of 16 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents. By 2010, that figure had risen to 28 percent.

The most common drug was marijuana, and with legalization I only see traffic fatalities increasing.

I’m a believer in letting people do what they wish, but when the safety of others becomes a problem, I have a problem. Since there’s no easy way to measure the amount of marijuana in drivers, maybe a choice has to be made: Drugs or driving. But not both.

Should marijuana users be allowed to have driver’s licenses?

-tgriffith

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