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Drugged Driving Poses Significant Risks Of Injury On Oklahoma Roads

Studies reveal that drugged driving is implicated in a growing number of car accidents thereby posing a substantial risk of injury to other motorists.

Drugged driving is implicated in an increasing number of car accidents. The Institute of Behavior and Health observes that around 7,000 fatalities occur annually in the United States due to drugged driving. In addition, approximately 440,000 people are injured in car crashes each year as a result of drugged driving. The annual economic cost of driving while impaired by drugs approaches 60 billion dollars.

Emergency Medical Services Authority of Oklahoma states that many types of drugs-whether prescription, over the counter or illegal-can impair driving skills. The precise driving impairment depends on the drug used by the driver. Marijuana, for example, causes difficulty in perceiving time and distances. This can result in drowsiness, bad judgment and impaired reaction time. If coupled with alcohol, marijuana negatively affects coordination.

Opiates, ranging from oxycodone to heroin, can cause mental confusion and visual impairment. Drivers may find they have trouble keeping their vehicle in the proper lane. Amphetamines are said to interfere with concentration and vision and can cause a driver to take unnecessary risks on the road.

Tranquilizers prescribed by physicians cause drowsiness, altered perception and slow reaction time. Tranquilizers can make it difficult for drivers to maintain their lane position and pay attention to highway regulatory signs. Cocaine increases impulsive and risky driving behavior and impairs coordination and vision. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration adds that cocaine causes drivers to speed and change lanes without signaling thereby putting "innocent people at risk of a deadly accident."

The pain pill problem

An Interim Study Report on Oklahoma's drug abuse problem, prepared by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, expressed great concern about the possible underreporting of drug-involved automobile crashes in Oklahoma. Another area of concern was that automobile crashes involving drivers under the influence of prescription drugs appeared to be on the increase. The Edmund Sun newspaper recently reported that drugged driving is apt to get much worse in Oklahoma due to the rampant prescription drug abuse problem in this state. Oklahomans aged 12 and older exceed the national average for consumption of prescription painkillers by 67.3 percent.

An assistant director for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office was quoted as saying that the number of individuals driving under the influence of drugs is also rising due to older drivers using more and more medications. He added that Oklahoma law enforcement was trying to combat drugged driving by: (1) increasing the public's awareness of the problem; (2) using better targeted law enforcement techniques; and (3) increasing the use of drug recognition experts.

Seeking compensation

Do not allow yourself or a loved one to be an uncompensated victim of someone who got behind the wheel while impaired by drugs. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a drugged driver, you should contact an Oklahoma attorney experienced in handling motor vehicle accident cases.