How do drugs affect my safety on the road?

Drugged driving causes the death of thousands of people in the United States and poses a serious risk to people in Colorado.

Driver error, wet or icy road conditions, or an unseen obstruction can result in a serious Colorado crash, affecting the at-fault driver, other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Sometimes accidents are caused by drivers who are under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs.

Scope of the problem

In 2014, 136 people in Colorado were killed in drugged driving crashes, according to 9 News. In addition, the state has experienced a 12 percent rise from 2014 to 2015 in the number of such accidents that resulted in death.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., states that one report showed the number of American drivers who were fatally injured and tested positive for drugs was over 3,900. Furthermore, another survey in 2013 showed that the number of people who admitted to taking an illicit drug and then driving was around 9.9 million.

Effects of drugs on drivers

People often underestimate the effects that drugs, whether prescription or illegal, can have on their driving skills. The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that while there has not been a lot of research conducted on the subject, it is known that using marijuana can cause problems with keeping one's attention on the road, the ability to keep the car within the road lane, being able to judge the distance of objects and reacting to a potentially dangerous situation immediately. Other illegal drugs can cause people to become engaged in more dangerous behaviors, putting others on the road at risk.

Prescription drugs can be just as dangerous if people do not adhere to the warning label on them. Sedatives and pain killers often come with directions that people should not drive while taking them or that they can cause drowsiness or confusion. Mixing some prescription drugs with alcohol can also cause severe impairment for people who decide to get behind the wheel of a car.

Colorado looking to track marijuana driving offenses

Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, lawmakers say that there has been no way to track how many people are driving under the influence of the drug. The Gazette reports that part of the problem is that drivers on marijuana are charged with the same offense as someone who is drunk. This has led lawmakers to start working on legislation that would separate the two offenses. Doing so would give the state the ability to determine if there is a public safety risk.

Any kind of dangerous behavior on the part of drivers can cause harm to innocent victims. For those victims, dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be challenging. Therefore, they may find it helpful to meet with an attorney.