Our society spends a lot of time and effort to raise awareness about drunk driving. The efforts are noble, but, despite having a tremendous impact, they fall short of completely halting drunk driving accidents. Also, many preventative strategies neglect to address a growing concern in Massachusetts and across America: drugged driving.

Drugs, like alcohol, can seriously impair a motorist. Marijuana, for example, can drastically slow a driver’s reaction time, damage his or her perception of distance and time, and affect motor skills coordination. Those who use drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamine, on the other hand, may become aggressive behind the wheel, operating in a way that is reckless. Also, sedatives can cause a driver to become drowsy. All of these effects can put a driver, and those around him or her, at risk of harm.

Perhaps more disturbing is the number of individuals who are operating their vehicles while under the influence of drugs. According to a 2013 study, nearly 10 million individuals 12 years and older reported they had driven under the influence of illegal drugs during the last year. Though this is significantly lower than the nearly 30 million people who admit to driving under the influence of alcohol, the number is still quite significant.

It is difficult to gauge how many accidents are caused by drugged driving, primarily because those who are under the influence of drugs are also often under the influence of alcohol. Regardless of how such an accident is caused, however, those who are injured by the negligence of a drugged driver may want to carefully consider their legal options. By filing a successful lawsuit, victims may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Drug Facts: Drugged Driving,” accessed on May 28, 2016