Recent data from the Pennsylvania Crash Information Tool (PCIT) show that in 2018, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) District 10, 132 motorists were in a drug-related crash, a 4% decrease from 2017. While Butler and Clarion counties saw decreases in drug-related/drugged driver crashes, Armstrong, Indiana and Jefferson counties saw increases, some of them significant.
A new Center for Disease Control (CDC) report, released last week, showed that in 2018, 12 million Americans aged 16 and older reported driving under the influence of marijuana and 2.3 million reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs other than marijuana during the past 12 months.
Drug-related/drugged driver crashes involve drivers who test positive for marijuana, prescription medications such as narcotics and opiates, even cold medication. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, “something as simple as cold medication or an over-the-counter sleep aid could impair one’s driving. If it does, you will be arrested for a DUI. If you are taking a new prescription drug or a higher dose of a current prescription drug, do not drive until you know what effect it has on your judgement, coordination, and reaction time. Any effect could impair your driving ability.” It’s also important to note that a mixture of medications may cause impairment.
Local statistics on drug-related crashes are as follows:
- Armstrong County data show that 5% of crashes in 2018 were drug-related, a 6% increase (4.7%) from 2017.
- Butler County data show that 3% of crashes in 2018 were drug-related, a 14% decrease (3.5%) from 2017.
- Clarion County data show that 2.1% of crashes in 2018 were drug-related, a 9% decrease (2.3%) from 2017.
- Indiana County data show that 4.2% of crashes in 2018 were drug-related, an 11% increase (3.8%) from 2017.
- Jefferson County data show that 2.7% of crashes in 2018 were drug-related, a 17% increase (2.3%) from 2017.
If ingesting an impairing substance, such as marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, sleep medication, or any form of illegal drug, do not drive. Also, passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car. If planning to drive and drug-impaired, pass the keys to a sober driver who can safely drive. Like drunk driving, it is essential that drug-impaired drivers refrain from driving a vehicle. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.
Submitted by PennDOT District 10