Virginia drivers can use their turn signals, wear their seatbelts, and stay alert while driving in order to protect their own safety. They cannot, however, control what other drivers on the road do, and, unfortunately, the behavior of other negligent drivers can have dangerous and deadly consequences for Virginians.

One of the most serious forms of negligent driving that may lead to car accidents is drugged driving. Frighteningly, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 22 percent of all drivers tested in a roadside survey tested positive for medication or drugs, including both legal and illegal substances. The presence of illegal drugs was slightly higher on weekend nights as compared to weekday days.

Alarmingly, drug use by drivers is on the rise, and there are different types of drugs, both legal and illegal, that may impact a driver. These substances can impact a motorist’s ability to make clear and quick decisions, and, consequently, can lead to car collisions. Legal drugs, such as prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, and non-medicinal drugs may impair a driver’s cognitive abilities and contribute to an accident. Illegal drugs, such as hallucinogens, stimulants, and narcotics, of course, may also impair the essential skills a driver needs to drive safely.

Drugged driving can be more complicated than drunk driving to prove, as there are hundreds of different types of drugs that may affect a driver and the effects may vary. Therefore, if you have been injured by a driver you believe may have been under the influence of drugs, it may be wise to consult with an attorney who may be able to advise you regarding potential accident investigation methods and how best to pursue damages.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, “Drug-Impaired Driving: A Guide for What States Can Do,” accessed Sept. 2, 2016