Prescription Drug Effects on Driving
The word “epidemic” has been used repeatedly by news sources for the prescription drug addiction problem in America. Millions of Americans are addicted to drugs that they can simply get from their neighborhood doctor. Opioids, or pain killers, are the most addictive. The rate of sales of prescription pain killers has quadrupled from 1999 to 2010. It is common for people to “doctor shop,” or visit multiple doctors to get more than one prescription. 259 million prescriptions were written for painkillers in 2012. That means that every adult in America could have had their own bottle of pills.
Prescription drugs can cause similar effects as alcohol
Most of these drugs do not mix well with driving. Little warning labels are printed on the side of the bottles, stating “do not operate a vehicle while taking this medication.” Sedatives such as Valium cause impairment similar to being drunk. High doses of painkillers can impair drivers with drowsiness and a slowed reaction time. With the prevalence of prescription drug addiction it is scary to picture how many people actually drive while on drugs.
According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10 million people reported driving under the influence of drugs. Studies have shown that 11 percent of deadly car crashes involve a drugged driver. 47 percent of drugged drivers who are involved in those accidents tested positive for a prescription drug. These drivers are negligent and do not consider the danger that they pose to everyone on the road. Drugged drivers often lead to car accidents which can injure and cause fatalities. Victims and their families must often seek personal injury lawsuits against drugged drivers to recover some compensation for their altered lives.
How can people prevent drugged driving?
It can be difficult to prevent others from driving while under the influence of drugs, but there are steps that people can take to help. Improvement starts at home, so offer to help those around you. People are usually secretive about their prescription drug use. Asking questions and being aware can keep you in the loop. If you know of a friend or family member who abuses medication then you can do the following:
- Ask them how they will get home
- Offer to be their designated driver
- Take their car keys if they are visibly impaired
- Keep an open conversation about the dangers of drugged driving