Driving while impaired by any substance puts you and others in harm’s way.1 Impaired driving can be caused by alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or any other substance that can alter the driver’s mental status. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2018, 20.5 million people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol in the past year and 12.6 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.3 Driving impaired is against the law in all 50 states including that the states where marijuana laws have changed.
The effects of drugged driving is dependent on the substance that was taken. For example, marijuana can slow reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance, and decrease coordination. Drivers who have used cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive and reckless when driving. Certain kinds of prescription medicines, including benzodiazepines and opioids, can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impair the driver’s ability to think and use judgment.3 Even if the driver only drives under the influence using a small amount of the drug, it can still have an effect on their driving.
Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle crash due to inexperience than any other group. Mixing inexperience with being under the influence can be a dangerous cocktail for both the driver and others on the road.
Remember these safety tips to stay safe on the road:
- The best option for teen drivers is to avoid any substance that may lead to impaired driving.
- If you are under the influence, use a ride-sharing app to get home or designate someone to be the sober driver.
- Hold your family and friends accountable. Do not let a loved one get behind the wheel if they have been under the influence.
- Consider appointing someone to the designated driver and collecting everyone’s car keys.
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