Most of us have heard the mantra “don’t drink and drive” over and over as we’ve grown up. While drunk driving remains high on every safety professional’s list of serious concerns, another issue on the rise is impaired driving caused by drugs, especially as the number of states who have legalized marijuana grows and attitudes towards that particular drug loosen.
Whether you’re taking illegal drugs, have a prescription, or are just trying to treat a cold with over-the-counter medicines, if you feel different, you drive different.
In response to the increase in drivers who are impaired by drugs, law enforcement agencies have trained drug recognition experts who can not only detect impairment but can actually determine the category of drug involved by using a standardized multi-step protocol.
In Iowa in 2018, the latest complete data set we have, 80 of the 319 people killed on Iowa roadways died in a drug-related crash. Of those 80 people, 32 were killed in crashes where the impaired driver mixed alcohol and drugs, but 48 deaths were caused by a driver who was only using drugs.
To find out more about the process law enforcement used to test drivers suspected of being high, https://www.theiacp.org/12-step-process
For 2020, there have been no fatalities reported. As of Jan. 3, 2020, the 2019 fatality count stands at 336. This is subject to change as law enforcement reports are completed. To see statistics published daily by the Office of Driver Services, go to the daily fatality report at https://www.iowadot.gov/mvd/stats/daily.pdf