Drug-impaired driving is a problem on America’s highways. Like drunk driving, drugged driving is impaired driving — which means it is dangerous and illegal in all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. Whether the drug is legally prescribed or illegal, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to the driver, vehicle passengers and other road users.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects of specific drugs differ depending on how they act in the brain. For example, marijuana can slow reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance and decrease coordination. Drivers who have used cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive and reckless when driving. Certain kinds of sedatives, called benzodiazepines, can cause dizziness and drowsiness.
All of these impairments can lead to vehicle crashes. Research studies have shown negative effects of marijuana on drivers, including an increase in lane weaving, poor reaction time and altered attention to the road. Use of alcohol with marijuana made drivers more impaired, causing even more lane weaving.
Drugged driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at risk
Remember, if you feel different, you drive different.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Drug Facts
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Impaired Driving
- U.S. Department of Transportation: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different
— Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council