More and more people driving under the influence of drugs, study says

More and more drivers are taking illegal drugs, getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and endangering those around them, recent studies have shown.

Many drivers in Illinois recognize that texting while driving or driving under the influence of alcohol is highly dangerous. However, less attention is given to drugged driving, which is an activity that can also put drivers, passengers and pedestrians severely at risk. Not only is drugged driving dangerous to others, but it is also on the rise in the U.S.

The rise in drugged driving

Over the past decade, the percentage of traffic deaths where at least one driver involved tested positive for having drugs in their system has nearly doubled, states USA Today. As U.S. traffic fatalities continue to increase, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also discovered that the number of drivers who test positive for prescription medications or illegal drugs is also on the rise.

In one several study that involved 11,000 drivers who were out at night on the weekend, 15.1 percent tested positive for illegal drugs in both 2013 and 2014. In 2007, the percentage of drivers testing positive for illegal drugs on the weekend and at night was 1.4 percent. Marijuana was the drug that saw the largest increase, with 12.6 percent of drivers testing positive for it in 2013 and 2014, and 8.6 percent testing positive for this drug in 2007.

How drugs affect a person's ability to drive

There are many ways in which drugs can harm a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely. These include some of the following:

  • Judgment-Drivers who are under the influence of drugs are more likely to underestimate danger. For this reason, they may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors behind the wheel.
  • Reaction time-While under the influence of drugs, drivers will have slower reaction times.
  • Coordination-Braking, accelerating and steering are all activities that drivers may struggle to perform properly after using illegal drugs.
  • Perception-Since drugs can impair vision, drivers may have a hard time seeing and reacting to things around them and their vehicle.
  • Attention-Drivers who take certain drugs may have a hard time focusing and processing important information.
  • Tracking-Those who take illegal drugs and then drive a car may struggle to maintain a safe distance between those driving in front of them.

When drivers under the influence of drugs cause an accident, those involved may incur serious injuries that harm them financially, physically and emotionally. For this reason, people in Illinois who were harmed in an accident involving a drugged driver should reach out to an attorney for assistance protecting their legal rights.