Drugged Driving and Drunk Driving: Both Serious but Drugged Driving More Common

Drugged Driving Increasing.

The majority of drivers killed in a crash in the U.S. are tested for alcohol and drugs. This gives officials the chance to compare drugged driving and drunk driving.

drugged driving and drunkThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported statistics for the most recent year available, 2015. It found that drugs were present in 43% of such drivers. This compared to 37% with alcohol.

Thus, in compqaring drugged driving and drunk driving, it’s drugged driving that is more common.

The Problem of Reducing Drugged Driving

There are many reasons that drugged driving is much harder to reduce than drunk driving. The problems of drugged driving and drunk driving are different in some ways. For example:

  • It’s much easier to arrest drivers impaired by alcohol than by drugs. That’s why some drivers report that it they use drugs instead of alcohol. There are many reasons why using drugs means there’s little chance of arrest.
  • There is little public concern about drugged driving. However, there is public outrage (rightly so) about drunken driving. And there are strongly organized groups, such as MADD, pressing for ever stricter enforcement of laws against alcohol-impaired driving. (Only recently has MADD agreed to oppose drugged driving.)
  • It’s much, much easier to detect alcohol impairment. Although they are often inaccurate, breathalyzers are easy to use and make it very easy to get a conviction.
  • Some drugs that can impair driving are illegal. Some are
    legal under certain conditions. And some are legal and available
  • Hundreds of different drugs can impact driving. Many impair it. Some improve it. The effects of others are very complex and not well understood.
  • Laws concerning drugs and driving vary widely from state to state and sometimes within states.

Drunk driving continues dropping. Yet drugged driving is rapidly increasing.

We’ve made great progress in reducing drunk driving and we must continue doing so. However, we must now tackle the even greater challenge of lowering drugged driving.

Resources on Drugged Driving and Drunk Driving

Erickson, T. Drug-impaired Driving. NY: Nova, 2015.

Gravelle, K. and Flook, H. The Driving Book: Everything New Drivers Need to Know but Don’t Know to Ask. NY: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Grosshandler, J. Drugs and Driving. NY: Rosen , 2001. [Youth readership]

Haber, S. Driving Under the Influence. Sierra Madre, CA: Versa-Tape, 2015.

Hole, G. The Psychology of Driving. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2014.

Kuhns, J. Drug-impaired Driving. Washington: U.S. Depart of Justice, 2012.

National Center for Victims of Crime. Driving Under the Influence. Washington: The Center, 2016.

NHTSA. Driving When You are Taking Medications. Washington: NHTSA, 2004.

____________. Drug Per Se Laws. Washington: NHTSA, 2010.

Weekes, J. Drugs and Driving FAQs. Ottawa: Canadian Center on Substance Abuse, 2005.

Source for Drugged Driving and Drunk Driving

Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Drug-Impaired Driving. Washington: The Association and the Foundation, 2017.