Although one can feel badly for Tiger Woods’ impaired driving arrest on Memorial Day, the incident highlights a very important issue – the dangers of driving while taking prescription medications. It can be as deadly as drunk driving, endangering everyone on the road.
Whether you believe Woods or not, I do know from my personal injury law practice that a lot of car crashes have occurred because the at-fault driver was taking prescription meds.
Woods asserts he was taking four painkillers because of recent back surgery, one of them Vicodin, an opioid. The FDA warns that this drug “may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery; patients should be cautioned accordingly.”
We can say that Woods should have known that. He should have. But the problem is bigger than one celebrity. More and more people are driving on both legal and illegal drugs, making it a bigger threat to public safety than drunk driving.
Drugs found in more fatalities than alcohol
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR), in 2015, both legal and illegal drugs were found in the bodies of fatally injured drivers forty-three percent of the time! That’s an incredibly high percentage. Alcohol was shown to be found in the bloodstream of 37 percent of the fatalities.
Ten years ago, the numbers were significantly different; alcohol was found in 41 percent of fatalities and drugs in 28 percent. Distilled, drug-impaired driving has nearly doubled and has surpassed driving while intoxicated.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the increase in traffic incidents involving drugged driving coincides with the rising tide of drug overdose deaths, which was 2½ times higher in 2015 than in 1999.
Don’t drive if you don’t know how your meds affect you!
So many drivers do not realize that the medicines they are taking (even cold medicines) can impair driving. However, ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law. If you are driving drugged, it doesn’t matter that you have a legal prescription from your physician. You are responsible for knowing whether you should or should not be driving while taking it.
Please educate yourselves about the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are taking. It will help keep you and others safe on our roadways.
Please, be safe out there!
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