Drugged Driving Greatly Under-Reported

Research has repeatedly reported that drugged driving is grossly under-reported and is much more serious than generally realized.

A major reason is that law enforcement lacks tests to identify drugging. Another is that if a driver is drugging and drinking, police officers easily detect the alcohol and rarely look for evidence of drug impairment.

In reality marijuana can affect concentration, perception and reaction time up to 24 hours after it's smoked. That's much, much longer than alcohol can affect behavior.

But while marijuana might affect behavior much longer than alcohol and be much more dangerous for driving, it is much safer in that people are very rarely arrested for driving while drugged.

A drug counselor and recovering addict, Allison Whitney, says that she got into several crashes as a teenager because of smoking pot while driving. Although she would get pulled over for erratic driving, police would always let her go because she passed breathalyzer tests. 1

The United Kingdom has decided to install a drug-detecting machine in every police station within two years. They will also later be placed in police vehicles for use in roadside stops.

The only problem is that no accurate "drugalyzer" has yet been found. This is unfortunate because a study by the Transportation Research Laboratory found that drugs were a factor in about one in every four fatal traffic crashes.


  • Cameron, Duncan. Illinois Beverage Guide, 2010, 10(9), p. 4.
  • 1. Durbin, Dee-Ann. Government targets teens in effort to reduce drugged driving. Associated Press, December 2, 2004.

Readings on Drugged Driving:

  • Bachelard, Michael. Culture of drug-driving shocks police. Weekend Australian, April 16, 2005.
  • Butterworth, F. Many Undetected, Use Drugs and Then Drive, Report Says. New York Times, November 15, 2002, A20.
  • Caught out by roadside drug tests. Daily Telegraph, April 16, 2005.
  • Hodgson, Shelley. Drug drive rates top drinking. Melbourne Herald Sun, April 16, 2005;
  • McDonough, S. Technology for Detecting Illegal Drugs in Drivers Improving but Laws Still Lagging, Study Says. Associated Press, November 14, 2002.
  • Milovanovic, Selma. More drivers on drugs than alcohol. The Age, April 16, 2005.
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Expert Panel Recommends Zero Tolerance for Drugged Drivers: Current Laws in Most States Inadequate to Identify and Treat Drugged Drivers. Press release, November 14, 2002.
  • Salant, J. D. Government Plans Crackdown on Drugged Driving. Associated Press, November 19, 2002.
  • Wilson, Alex. One in 73 drivers on drugs. Brisbane Courier-Mail, April 15, 2005

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving