DRUG DRIVING: Why Is It Dangerous And How To Maintain Safety

Driving under the effect of any drug could be dangerous not only for the driver but for all the other people present on the streets. Drugs can cause dizziness, lack of bodily coordination, poor judgment, aggressive driving, hallucination, etc. Driving under such influence can lead to crashes and accidents. 

When we say drugs, it’s not just the illegal ones under the radar. All the prescribed and over the counter dosages of drugs can also affect driving in adverse ways. Alcohol with drugs is a deadly combination. Most of the drugged drivers generally consume the blend, making it difficult to determine which substance had a more significant effect. 

Facts About Drug Driving

  • Individuals aged between 21 to 25 years are most likely to drive under the influence of drugs. Serious consideration has to be reflected in the problem of drug abuse in youngsters.
  • Among the total population of drugged drivers, the majority of tests affirm consuming more than one drug. More than 40% of people drive under the influence of alcohol mixed with drugs. 
  • Drug tests performed by cops’ roadside can detect many drugs, including MDMA, THC, and methamphetamine.
  • Under various states’ laws, a driver who has consumed many drugs can undergo suspension of their driving license 24 hours.

Which Population Drives The Most Under The Influence Of Drugs?

Teens! Youth today are drowning under drug abuse, and the issue is not unknown to anyone. A recent survey shows that one out of every six college going teens have driven at least once under the influence of drugs. Cannabis and cocaine are the most common drugs consumed by high schoolers and college students. As the teens speed up and drive rashly under the effects of drugs, fatal accidents on the streets are mostly caused by this age group.

Older people who consume prescribed drugs also hold a notable place among the population of drug drivers. Due to improper dosage and delayed breakdown of drugs in the body, the older individuals get tricked into aggression and intoxication while driving.

Studies have shown that men are more likely to drive under the spell of drugs and cause accidents than women. One reason for this is because men cover more miles than women and drive powerful cars. Due to this, the impact of speeding and crashes are higher as well.

How Drugs Affect Driving

Drugs manipulate brain functions. Illegal ones are more efficient in playing with the mind and tricking the body. Drugs can cause paranoia, sleepiness, nausea, blurred visions, convulsions, lousy coordination, hyperactivity, aggression, reduced judgment, and much more. Many drivers suffer from weak muscles after consuming drugs resulting in the incapability of quick reflexes. Older people might get unconscious while driving and put their lives along with others at risk after taking medicines.

  1. Marijuana

Marijuana causes drowsiness and makes the brain incapable of judging the situation appropriately. A person who has combined marijuana with alcohol or opioids is at a greater risk of accidents. If consumed in a high amount, marijuana makes it impossible to judge the speed and time with accuracy and causes distraction. What’s worse is, it impairs the reaction mechanism of the body and slows down the reflexes. By the time you get to know what has happened, the mishap already happens. 

2. Cocaine

It is best to stay away from driving after the consumption of cocaine. It builds a false impression of the mind being active and alert, whereas, in reality, many of the bodily functions are impaired. When combined with antidepressants is one of the most common methods of taking cocaine; it can increase aggressiveness and impulsive behavior. 

In comparison with marijuana, cocaine is more capable of causing extreme consequences while driving. If injected with heroin, it can result in heart strokes and deaths.

3. Tranquilizers

Tranquilizers are like depressants for the nervous system. After their consumption, the coordination between mind and body is most likely to impair. The speech and action control is severely affected, and dizziness engulfs all the activeness. Alcohol can add to these adverse effects of tranquilizers and increase the severity of outcomes. Usually, people combine stimulants with tranquilizers to set aside stress.

4. Opiates

These substances result in laziness and delayed response of the body. It can impair vision and cause breathlessness. When consumed with alcohol, heroin, or any other drugs, opiates can increase the blood’s toxicity and result in a drug overdose. People driving under the influence of opiates have a poor judgment of time and speed, have trouble in changing lanes, and can undergo a respiratory arrest. 

5. Amphetamines

Amphetamines boost the driver’s risk-taking tendencies. It causes depressing effects and manipulates the concentration levels in the blood. If combined with MAO inhibitors or marijuana, it can result in hypertensive disasters. 

6. Multiple Drug Consumption

Combining hard drugs is the worst idea one can come up with. Polydrug usage can have additive, synergistic, or antagonistic effects. It can either double the symptoms, amplify the total impact to an exponential rate, or result in a nullity. In any way, you will lose your overall control over your body and mind. Driving under such influence will undoubtedly make an individual contribute to unanticipated accidents and put other people’s lives in danger as well.

Multiple Drug Consumption

How About Using Medicines While Driving

The FDA advises to check the prescribed medicines’ components and discuss their effects with a medical professional before consumption. Most of the common medicines are safe for driving but might cause mild symptoms of drowsiness. Depending on your body, the effect of medications might vary from individual to individual. Following are some side-effects that might happen after the consumption of common medicines: 

  • Inability to be attentive
  • Drowsiness
  • Short term inefficiency in hearing and seeing
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting and frequent gag reflexes
  • Poor coordination
  • Slow reaction

Knowing your medicines is very crucial if you are planning to drive afterward. Common cold and flu medicines mainly don’t implicate severe side effects and are safe. But if you are on hard medication, there are a few things you need to know.

Pain relievers, antidepressants, muscle relaxers, anti-seizure, psychotic drugs, etc., can alter your capability of staying attentive and awake. Though prescribed by doctors and safe to use, you might face problems indulging in physical activities. Driving is one such activity that needs full concentration and reflex. A detailed discussion with the doctor and thorough inquiry of ingredients in the meds will prevent severe driving casualties. 

Tips For Keeping Safe

If you consume alcohol or drugs of any sort, you must include a few things in your lifestyle for safety. As a responsible citizen, everyone must not put lives in danger due to personal recklessness. Many people have lost their loved ones in road hazards, and the numbers don’t seem to go down any soon. Below are some tips to be incorporated by everyone to save lives from falling into the adversity of road crashes: 

1. Calling Designated Drivers Whenever Needed

Calling a driver at times of need is nothing to be ashamed of. All of us have bad days, and it’s something you should opt for if the alcohol and drugs have messed you instead of providing a good time. Offering someone a safe drive home is also a conscious and commendable action. Try not to push yourself in a drugged state as your body might not respond to your expectation and trick you into wrongful decision-making. 

2. Cautioning Friends And Loved Ones

You must be familiar with the conditions and habits of your close ones. Turning a blind eye to their actions can result in casualty. Caution your friends and family members about the harmful effects of drug driving and encourage them to keep their consumption levels in check.

3. Discussing With Your Doctors

Sometimes people don’t enquire enough about the medicines that are prescribed to them. It is critical to check the components of the drugs you are taking and understand throw effects. Learn the proper methods for storing the medication. A little carelessness might alter the chemical balance of the compound, giving out unfavorable side-effects. Ask your doctor about the compatibility of medicines with other beverages and food items. Some drugs do not go well with alcohol and reflect severe damage to body balance.

4. Avoiding Driving

The best way to dodge a drug- caused accident is by avoiding driving at all. You can use public transport or make use of a friend in times of need. Call a cab or taxi if nothing works out. Ask and provide rides to friends after a party with drug and alcohol use. 

5. Reading The Warning Labels

Medicines and drugs come with instructions to use and warning. Read the full description before consuming the substance. You might also want to cross-check with your doctor in case of doubts. Do not form myths and conceptions about drugs and their effects. People tend to show overconfidence in matters of drugs and suffer from negative consequences later. 

6. No Overdose

Anything taken in an excessive quantity than prescribed can result in dreadful aftermaths. It’s right in the case of drugs too. Do not overestimate your capacity and keep a check on the consumption levels. 

7. Keep Yourself Away From Mixing Drugs

The blending of drugs can cause antagonistic, additive, and synergistic effects. It can amplify the total impact and make your body vulnerable. Continuous use of mixed drugs will alter your mind and body coordination. Drugs like marijuana, meth, amphetamines, cocaine, etc., should never be mixed with alcohol. Liquor causes drowsiness and poses difficulty in making conscious decisions. You might feel fine after the immediate consumption, but the cumulative effect may show up much magnified later when you are driving. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can prescription drugs be taken while driving?

Yes, prescription drugs are generally safe for driving purposes, but some of them might cause drowsiness, loss of balance, poor coordination, blurred vision, etc. It is advised to discuss the possible side effects of prescribed medicines and their compatibility with driving with your doctor.

2. What happens if you test positive for drugs while driving?

If you test in affirmation for drugs in a roadside drug test as a first-time offender, you will have to pay the prescribed fine, and your driving license will be suspended for a short period. If the same behavior is continued and you get caught for repetitive offense twice or thrice, the driver’s license could be subjected to disqualification, and there might be a need to visit the courts.

3. What are the riskiest behaviors while drug driving?

First of all, drugged drivers tend to Overspeed vehicles in almost all cases. Negligence towards the traffic signs and recklessly changing lanes are the other two most rocky behaviors during drug driving.

4. Are there any laws against drug drinking in the United States Of America?

Eleven states, including Arizona, Rhode Island, Michigan, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Utah, have zero-tolerance against driving under drugs’ influence. The other states to have laws that put penalties in terms of a monetary fine, prescribe suspension of driving license, and allows the state to initiate court proceedings against drugged drivers.

5. Which is safer driving drunk or high?

Studies have revealed that drunk driving is much more dangerous than driving under the effects of smoking marijuana. If your body has adjusted to marijuana consumption, it is as safe as driving sober. Hard drugs, on the other hand, are most dreadful and not at all safe for driving. 


Determination of the exact effects of drugs on driving is difficult. When consumed together with alcohol, the tests are incapable of showing which substance had a more significant effect on the drivers. During the roadside drug tests, police typically don’t test for drugs but stop after finding raised blood-alcohol level. However, this won’t help you out of a situation as a DUI charge might result in your license suspension. With the increase in stress and anxiety issues today, consumption of drugs and alcohol is touching heights. People have started indulging in drugs at very early ages, which also impairs their overall growth. There is a broad scope for ameliorating laws to come into action before the situation goes out of control. As individuals, we all need to encourage open discussion about the issue and spread awareness for a positive change. 

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