Drugged driving is on the rise

Published: Oct. 12, 2015 at 8:56 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2015 at 9:26 PM EDT
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(WWBT) - We are used seeing officers stopping cars at a DUI check point, looking for drivers under influence of alcohol.  However, times have changed.

"Drugs are a big problem. Drugged driving is a problem," Executive Director of Highway Safety Bill Bell says.  

According to a new study released by the Governor's Highway Safety Association, 40 percent of drivers killed in accidents tested positive for drugs in 2013.  That covers everything from meth and marijuana to blood-pressure medication and painkillers.

Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer has been an officer for 30 years. He believes, most of the time, people don't realize what they are ingesting could impact their driving. "The effects are so quick and different than the alcohol, and when they ingest it, they get behind the wheel or are already behind the wheel and then they crash," he says.

Pharmacist Susan Kemp says you should always be cautious getting behind the wheel after taking any prescribed medication. "Anything like Ibuprofen can make you drowsy.  It doesn't affect most people, but if you're that one and have that wreck behind that car, it's serious," Kemp adds.

According to the study, the percentage of drivers who tested positive for marijuana or illegal drugs rose from 12.4 percent in 2007 to 15.1 percent in 2013 and 2014.

The situation has even become concerning for AAA.  The organization wants more exposure for the problem of drugged drivers on our roads.  "We already had distracted driving. Now we have this emerging problem of drugged driving and its something that we should all be concerned
about," spokesperson Cheryl Parker says.

For years, the priority has been cracking down on drunk driving, and it's working.

A recent study by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration shows from 2007 to 2014 the number of drivers arrested for being under the influence of alcohol, nationally, went down by 30 percent, but the number of drugged drivers went up by four percent.

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