When most people hear about someone causing an accident because of driver impairment, alcohol usually comes to mind. However, drugs can diminish one’s ability to drive safely and may result in a crash as well.
That was the unfortunate reality for a small bus carrying two adult aides and two 4-year-old boys in wheelchairs in Long Island recently. The driver of a Jeep, apparently high on drugs, crossed a yellow line just after 8:00 a.m. and collided with the bus.
Both vehicles caught on fire. But thanks to the efforts of the bus driver, the adults and children safely vacated the vehicle and no one suffered serious injuries. The driver of the jeep was charged with driving while under the influence (DWI).
Drug Impairment in a Motor Vehicle Crash
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010 there were more than 1,400,000 arrests made for drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. About 18 percent of fatal driver deaths stemmed from drugs, such as cocaine or marijuana. But oftentimes, they are taken in addition to alcohol, increasing the risk of an accident.
Although narcotics can be a source of impairment, they aren’t the only kind. Even legal drugs could be a problem. For instance, prescription or over-the-counter medication may interfere with driving if they cause fatigue. Or there may be other side effects that impact driving ability.
Other Types of Impairment That Could Lead to an Accident
Drivers aren’t only considered impaired by what they consume or ingest. It could be that driving is unsafe because they are too tired. Drowsy driving is another type of impairment.
If an electronic device – such as a cell phone or GPS unit – or other factors such as eating or talking to a passenger distract the driver, this could be impairment as well. Anything that makes driving unsafe by reducing the driver’s capacity to make sound decisions or diverts attention from driving could fall into this category.