When most people hear about accidents caused by driving under the influence, they associate these crashes with drunk driving. The devastating consequences of driving under the influence of drugs, both legal and illegal, are often overlooked. Illicit substances such as marijuana, cocaine, and opiates impair a driver’s ability to react and can be a contributing factor to serious accidents. Even legal drugs like vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, and sleep aids severely inhibit a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. In fact, on the label of these substances, it says do not operate vehicles or heavy machinery when under the influence. As a Kirkland car accident attorney, I have seen too many examples of the devastating consequences of driving under the influence of drugs.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that 18% of drivers that caused fatal accidents in 2009 were under the use of drugs, legal or illegal. This constitutes a five percent increase since 2005. Another study found that, of the accident victims admitted to a trauma center in Maryland, 34 percent tested positive for only drugs, while 16 percent tested positive for only alcohol. This shows that “drugged driving” is become more common in the United States than drunk driving, which is a serious concern when you consider that drugs have an equal if not greater effect on a person’s ability to drive safely.
Late Tuesday night Taylor Frankewicz of Belfair, 22, was taken to Harborview Medical Center after an accident on Highway 106 near Belfair. The driver was on Highway 106 when he failed to make a turn and hit an unoccupied Ford Bronco on the side of the road causing his pickup to roll and hit a power pole. Frankewicz sustained serious head and leg injuries, and his condition is currently unknown. Troopers from the Washington State Patrol said that he was not wearing a seatbelt and marijuana was found in the truck. The Highway was blocked for nearly four hours while the accident was investigated and cleaned up. It is suspected that intoxicants and speed were factors that contributed to the accident.
A lack of seatbelt use, the influence of drugs, and failure to obey the rules of the road were all contributing factors to the serious injuries that the driver sustained. Marijuana, according to real and simulated driving studies, can have negative effects on the attentiveness of a driver, the driver’s perception of speed and time, and ability to react to sudden events. As efforts to prevent drunk driving increase, drug use by drivers on the streets and highways is becoming more of a problem. Even if it is a legal drug obtained over the counter or through a prescription, it still can have a significant effect on your ability to drive. It is important to take into account the consequences that your actions could have when driving, including the effects a “drugged driving” crash could have on your friends, family, or even an innocent person and their loved ones. When under the influence of drugs, do not operate a motor vehicle. Instead, get a ride from a friend or family member or take a cab. Do not put your life and the lives of innocent people at risk by driving under the influence of drugs.