Health Alert: Drugged Driving Part 2

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Welcome back to Health Alert! Tonight is part two of our interview concerning the use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs, and how this can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol.

Drugged driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at risk. Joining us again this week for this Health Alert discussion is Thomas Marshall, M.D., medical director of UHC Emergency Department.

Question: Why is drugged driving a problem in teens and young adults?

Answer: Teen drivers are less experienced and are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not recognize dangerous situations. They are also more likely to speed and allow less distance between vehicles. When lack of driving experience is combined with drug use, the results can be tragic. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among young people aged 16 to 19 years.

A 2011 survey of middle and high school students showed that, in the 2 weeks before the survey, 12 percent of high school seniors had driven after using marijuana, compared to around 9 percent who had driven after drinking alcohol.

A study of college students with access to a car found that 1 in 6 had driven under the influence of a drug other than alcohol at least once in the past year. Marijuana was the most common drug used, followed by cocaine and prescription pain relievers.

Question: Do we see much Drugged Driving in Older Adults?

Question: Surprisingly, yes. In 2010, more than one-quarter of drugged drivers in deadly crashes were aged 50 years or older. Illicit drug use in adults aged 50 to 59 has increased, more than doubling from 3% in 2002 to 7% in 2010. Mental decline in older adults can lead to taking a prescription drug more or less often than they should or in the wrong amount. Older adults also may not break down the drug in their system as quickly as younger people. These factors can lead to unintended intoxication while behind the wheel of a car.

Question: As the medical director of the emergency room, what would you like to leave our viewers with tonight concerning drugged driving?

Answer: Use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol.

In 2014, 10 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.It's hard to measure how many crashes drugged driving causes.After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to drugged driving. In 2010, more than 1/4 of drugged drivers in fatal crashes were aged 50 years or older.

When lack of driving experience is combined with drug use, the results can be tragic.People who use drugs and alcohol should develop social strategies to prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car while impaired.

WEB EXCLUSIVE
Question: What steps can people take to prevent drugged driving?

Answer: Because drugged driving puts people at a higher risk for crashes, public health experts urge people who use drugs and alcohol to develop social strategies to prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car while impaired. Steps people can take include:

-offering to be a designated driver

-appointing a designated driver to take all car keys

-getting a ride to and from parties where there are drugs and alcohol

-discussing the risks of drugged driving with friends in advance