Iowa Department of Public Safety
215 East 7th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319

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For immediate release: Alex Murphy
  DNE Public Information Officer
Investigative Operations
Iowa Department of Public Safety
Thursday, December 5, 2013
(515) 443-3014 - cell
(515) 725-6189 - office

Is the driver in the lane next to you high?
Drugged Driving Kills

Des Moines, IOWA --- It might be hard to tell if another driver is high, but your life could depend on it.  If you suspect a drugged driver, the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement asks you to call law enforcement right away.  This December, National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, state narcotics agents remind you that drugged driving is a serious problem with deadly consequences. 

The use of drugs, including marijuana or prescription medication, can impair perception, attention, reaction time, judgment, motor skills, and memory – all faculties necessary for the safe operation of a vehicle. The following research demonstrates the pervasive problem of drugged driving:

Drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers
Overall, 3,952 fatally injured drivers tested positive for drug involvement in 2009.

The National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers
In 2007, approximately one in eight weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illicit drugs. Moreover, approximately one in eight high school seniors responding to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Study (MTF) reported driving after smoking marijuana within two weeks prior to the survey interview.

Drug Testing and Drug-Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the United States: 2005-2009  Analysis of 2009 data shows that roughly one in four (23 percent) fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs were under the age of 25.  Between 2005 and 2009, almost half (42 percent) of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for marijuana were under the age of 25.

After alcohol, THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in marijuana, is the substance most commonly found in the blood of impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Several studies have shown that, depending on the location, anywhere from four to 14 percent of drivers who were injured or died in traffic accidents tested positive for THC.

It should also be noted that many prescription drugs including opioid pain relievers and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety or sleep disorders come with warnings against the operation of machinery—including motor vehicles—for a specified period of time after use. When prescription drugs are abused or restrictions are not followed, impaired driving and other harmful reactions become much more likely.

Help Stop Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs and prescription medication has deadly consequences.  Many Iowans have suffered through the loss of a loved one or friend due to a motor vehicle crash.  These fatal crashes are unforeseen tragedies which occur in the blink of an eye.  Take steps to avoid drugged driving and be sure to share this vital safety information with others:

  • Do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • Do not allow others to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • If you suspect an impaired driver on Iowa’s roadways, contact law enforcement immediately.



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