The May 2017 arrest of Tiger Woods for impaired driving shines an important spotlight on a growing problem — drugged driving.
According to media reports, Woods was arrested near his home for driving under the influence of prescription medication. Police documents show he blew a .000 breathalyzer (meaning he had no alcohol in his system) and had fallen asleep in his stopped car. The vehicle was pulled to the side of the road and the engine was running at the time police approached Woods.
Police also stated that Woods’ vehicle showed signs of damage. Both drivers’ side tires were flat, and there was damage to the front and rear bumpers. The rear passenger tail light was also out, and the tire rims had sustained damage.
Woods claimed that his impairment was due to “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.”
Safety Report Says Drugged Driving Is Now More Common Than Drunk Driving
A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that more fatal car accidents are caused by drugged driving than drunk driving. In about 43 percent of fatal car accidents, drivers tested positive for illegal or prescription drugs. By contrast, just 37 percent of fatal accidents involved a drunk driver.
This is a reversal of statistics in 2005, when 41 percent of fatal accidents were caused by drunk drivers and 28 percent were caused by drivers with drugs in their system.
A separate study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs revealed that 20 percent of drivers had taken a prescription drug within the past two days, with most of the drugs including sedatives, antidepressants, and painkillers.
A survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that stats for illegal drug use are rising. The number of weekend, nighttime illegal drug use behind the wheel increased from 12.4 percent in 2007 to 15.1 percent in 2013. Drivers using prescription drugs rose from 3.9 percent to 4.9 percent.
A police spokesperson told the media that motorists don’t view prescription medication the same way they do alcohol when it comes to impaired driving. He stated that people assume a medication is safe because their doctor gave it to them. Most people are well aware that drinking and driving is dangerous. However, they don’t often realize that prescription drugs and even over-the-counter medications can cause severe impairment.
If you are taking any kind of prescription drug, it’s important to discuss it thoroughly with your doctor. Make sure your doctor knows every kind of medication you’re taking, as certain drugs can interact with others in a dangerous way.
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