The Effects of Drugged Driving

Drug bag

Similar to driving after consuming alcohol, driving after taking drugs can be a huge safety risk to the driver, passengers and others on the road.

Why is drugged driving dangerous? Different drugs have various effects on how they act in the brain. For example, cocaine and methamphetamine can cause drivers to be aggressive and reckless when driving. Some types of sedatives can cause dizziness and drowsiness. Even the smallest amounts of some drugs can have a measureable effect on impairing the ability to drive. Drugs impair motor skills, reaction time, and judgment and negatively affect driving skills.

How do drugs affect driving skills?

  • Coordination- effects on nerves/muscles—steering, braking, accelerating, manipulation of vehicle
  • Reaction time- insufficient response and reaction
  • Judgment- cognitive effects, risk reduction, avoidance of potential hazards, anticipation, risk-taking behavior, inattention, decreased fear, exhilaration, loss of control
  • Tracking- staying in lane, maintaining distance
  • Attention- divided, not focused—high demand for information processing is severely affected
  • Perception- glare resistance and recovery, dark and light adaptation, dynamic visual activity—all negatively impacted by drug use.

In 2013 and estimated 9.9 million people reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. By comparison, in 2013, and estimated 28.7 million people reported driving under the influence of alcohol. Men ages 18 to 25 are most likely to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol.