person in the driver's seat of a car holding an opened beer car out the window

Drunk vs. Drugged Driving

The Dangers of Driving Under the Influence

When the term “driving under the influence” is used, people often associate it strictly with drunk driving. However, this can also mean being under the influence of drugs, an issue that is steadily growing in the United States.

According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drug use among fatally injured drivers increased by 17% from 2007 to 2016. Among these fatalities, cannabis, polydrug use (more than one type at a time), and stimulants were the most commonly found in the driver’s system. Despite the lack of conversation surrounding drugged driving, all motorists should be aware of the effects drugs can have on their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Comparing the Effects of Drunk vs. Drugged Driving

It’s important to understand how both alcohol and drugs can affect your body and, as a result, your driving ability. While they can both impair judgment and reaction times, there are also other issues that may arise.

Alcohol Use

When alcohol is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and quickly travels to the brain where it begins to affect the central nervous system. This can lead to:

  • Slower reflexes
  • Reduced coordination
  • Decreased ability to track moving objects
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Poor short-term memory

All of these effects can make it extremely dangerous to get behind the wheel. According to the NHTSA, drunk driving is responsible for nearly 30% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the United States.

Drug Use

While the effects of alcohol use on driving ability are widely known, the influence of drugs is not as commonly discussed. This may be because different drug classifications impair the body in different ways. For example, cannabis (or marijuana) causes reduced coordination, poor lane tracking, and impaired visual function. In contrast, stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines may make drivers more aggressive, reduce concentration, and increase risk-taking.

These impairments, whether through alcohol or drug use, can have fatal consequences. To stay as safe as possible when behind the wheel, driving sober is always the best option.

Kansas Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

Drivers who endanger others should be brought to justice. The team at Bretz Injury Law aims to protect your future by holding these negligent individuals accountable for their actions and help you obtain the compensation needed to seek medical treatment and replace lost wages. When you’ve been injured, Matt Bretz is here to help. Get started with a free consultation today by calling (620) 234-8880.

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