Drug use often causes bad decision making. This effect is amplified when the drug user gets behind the wheel. A new study, recently released by the NHTSA, shows that nationwide one third of all drug tests on drivers killed in a motor vehicle accident came back positive. Positive tests ranged from hallucinogens to prescription pain killers.
Wisconsin has addressed this serious problem through laws that prohibit drivers from using drugs. However, the state is only one of 17 that have passed such laws.
Researchers and safety experts are concerned that not enough research has been done on the effects of drug use and driving. Though drunk driving is well documented as dangerous and common sense tells us that is it also unsafe to drive after using drugs, the lack of in-depth studies makes this a tricky subject. Scott Burns, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, is well aware of the intricacies of passing DWI laws, especially those that speak to prescription drug use.
"With respect to illegal substances, the answer seems fairly easy: 'You can't drive with cocaine on board,'" says Burns. "The tougher question becomes, 'What do you do with prescription drugs?'"
The NHTSA is recommending that states keep better records of crashes involving prescription drugs. In this way more data could be collected and a better answer as to just how dangerous taking certain prescription drugs and driving can be.