Misuse or Abuse of Alcohol & Drugs Affects More than the Driver
In Nebraska, 72 people were killed in crashes where a driver was under the influence of alcohol in 2020, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.
Whether it’s referred to as drunk driving, driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence, impaired driving simply means a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle while compromised by alcohol and other drugs that change the function of the brain and body. The misuse or abuse of alcohol or other substances greatly increases the chance of injuries in the workplace and beyond.
In 2020, there were 1,534 alcohol related crashes statewide, according to NDOT. That’s more than 4 DUI-alcohol crashes each day.
Drugged driving is driving a vehicle while impaired due to the intoxicating effects of recent drug use. It 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 serious risk.
Why is drugged driving dangerous?
The effects of specific drugs on driving skills differ depending on how they act in the brain. For example, marijuana can slow reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance, and decrease coordination. Drivers who have used cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive and reckless when driving. Certain kinds of prescription medicines, including benzodiazepines and opioids, can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impair cognitive functioning (thinking and judgment). All of these effects can lead to vehicle crashes.
Research studies have shown negative effects of marijuana on drivers, including an increase in lane weaving, poor reaction time, and altered attention to the road. Use of alcohol with marijuana makes drivers more impaired, causing even more lane weaving. Some studies report that opioids can cause drowsiness and impair thinking and judgment. Other studies have found that being under the influence opioids while driving can double your risk of having a crash.
Read more about other commonly abused drugs that can effect driving, at www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts