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How Drugged Driving Affects Car Crashes

 

Drugged Driving Infographic 1

 

With an increase in the numbers of states decriminalizing marijuana, or completely legalizing it for medicinal or recreational uses, laws regarding drugged driving are trying to keep pace with increased incidences of drugged driving and how it affects accidents and fatality cases. As of 2017, 32 states and the District of Columbia have some type of law that correlates with increased marijuana use.

 

 

In addition to more people using the substance at home, it is also being found in more vehicle crashes. According to the report Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide for States 2017, fatally-injured drivers are more likely to test positively for drugs than for alcohol, and drugs are found in 43 percent of drivers who have died on the road. Even if your state, like Alabama, completely outlaws marijuana, you could still be a victim of drugged driving. Many different drugs, including misused prescriptions, are being cited in drugged driving incidents. Here’s what to know about the trends and what to do if you’re in an accident where drugs may have been involved.

 

What Effects do Drugs Have on Drivers

 

Because of the diversity of drugs that may impair driving and how nuanced the effects may be depending on the person’s physical makeup, determining exact outcomes based on drug use is much more difficult to define compared to alcohol use. Also, often drivers who have drugs in their system during a crash have also ingested alcohol, which makes determining effects based on the drug versus alcohol more difficult.

Drugged Driving Infographic 4

Some substances that are completely legal, such as over-the-counter cough medicine or a daily prescription, may cause dire effects when they are paired with driving. A mental decline in older adults may cause an unintentional misuse of drugs, either via inaccurate frequency or dosage. Here are some drugged driving basics, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

  • Sedatives: Increase dizziness and drowsiness
  • Marijuana: Slows reaction time, impairs judgment of time and distance, decreases coordination and decreases attention
  • Cocaine and methamphetamine: May increase aggression and reckless driving

 

Currently, in the United States, 16 states have zero-tolerance laws for drug-impaired driving, these laws often only focus on illegal drugs. If a person takes too much of a prescription that has a warning that it causes drowsy behavior, this drug may not be an obvious factor in a crash where the driver fell asleep at the wheel. A breathalyzer test will show a police officer immediately whether or not a driver has been drinking alcohol. Currently, very few police departments have testing that detects the presence of narcotics such as the Dräger DrugTest® 5000. These types of tests only detect the presence of illegal substances and cannot determine levels of intoxication. However, once detected or simply if an officer suspects that someone is under the influence of a substance, that officer can still detain and require that the suspect undergoes a urine and/or blood test. If the effects of the drugs are not clear, the person at fault may never be tested. Often times “sleepiness” may be ruled as the accident cause, not the prescription. In situations like this, it is crucial to enlist the help of an accident attorney that is well practiced in cases involving substances.Drugged Driving Infographic 3

 

Why a Lawyer is Necessary for Any Accident

 

Because so many drug-related crashes may go unnoticed by the victim and even police officers, hiring a car accident attorney for any case is wise, because drugs may be at play in affecting other drivers. Contacting your attorney immediately after a crash can help to ensure proper drug testing is done, which protects you and your case. An attorney will also be able to help gather the proper data that protects you, including what prescriptions other drivers have taken, what over-the-counter medicine they’ve used, whether or not they possess a medical marijuana card and may have been using marijuana before driving, or whether an illegal substance is found in their system.

Even if the accident seems minor, the damage to your vehicle, your body, your finances, your mental health and your time is worth protecting. Due to shock, stress, and adrenaline people often don’t realize that they have an injury or how bad the damages really are. Once the report is made and the officer has left the details of the accident and the damages or compensation are left to the insurance companies, an insurance company has their bottom line in mind first. A lawyer will have yours and will know how to correctly navigate the insurance process. Secondly, if you are at fault a lawyer will be able to help protect your assets and freedom.
Drugged Driving Infographic 2

 

How to Protect Yourself Against Drugged Driving

While you will never be completely safe from the possibility of drugged driving on the road, there are many precautions you can take to increase your protection.

 

  • Never drive after using illegal drugs. If you are found guilty of driving under the influence of illegal drugs, you will likely incur similar or worse penalties as the consequences of an alcohol-related (D.U.I) charge.
  • Always adhere to medicine labels. Thoroughly read the label of any over-the-counter or prescription drug you take. If there is language warning against driving, you should never drive after taking the medication
  • Avoid risky behavior at all costs. If there is a chance you will be drinking or using drugs always plan to stay where you are or have a designated driver. If you drove and worry that you may be tempted to drive while impaired, give your keys to someone who will not allow you to drive. Other options include using public transportation, a driving service, or a taxi.
  • Employ defensive driving on the road. Indicators of drugged driving include improper lane changes, drifting and swerving, extremely slow or fast speeds, delayed actions (such as taking too long to drive after a light turns green) and much more unusual behaviors. Watch out for unsafe driving around you while you’re on the road. If you suspect drugged driving, take note of the license plate number, and notify emergency services. Do not drive near a driver you suspect is dangerous. Pull off to the side of the road, and take a different route.

 

As prescription drugs become more prevalent and States loosen laws around marijuana usage it is essential to be aware of the risks you face as a driver. Currently, measuring drug usage and its effects in accidents still has some significant milestones to achieve before more reliable testing is instituted. Having a relationship with an accident attorney will keep you protected if you are in an at-fault accident or are the victim of an impaired driver.

 

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: Tips to Stay Safe

 

 

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, a time when it is vital for both motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers to be aware of riders.

 

 

 

Riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience for many – you can find reasons why riding a motorcycle is fun here – but it also poses a greater danger than other types of driving. The National Safety Council’s Injury Facts 2017 Edition reports while motorcycles only account for 3 percent of all registered vehicles, motorcyclists account for 14 percent of traffic fatalities.

A crash that would cause a mere scratch on an SUV has the potential to completely knock a motorcycle rider off the bike. Distracted drivers pose a huge threat to motorcyclists, and even drivers who open up their car doors in traffic can hit someone on a motorcycle. Hard braking by other drivers may warrant the same from a motorcyclist, who may fly off the bike as a result. Road obstacles and debris ranging from gravel to rainwater to potholes can impact a ride.

You should never ride a motorcycle in traffic without the proper training and practice. Here are some tips for staying safe on the road if you ride a motorcycle.

Wear a Helmet

You might be surprised to learn that not every state has a law requiring the wearing of a helmet when you ride a motorcycle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports only 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, have universal helmet laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet. If you ride in a state where it’s the law, wearing a helmet helps protect you in case of an accident where you have to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer. Before you ride, it’s wise to learn and memorize all motorcycle laws so you can abide by them and ensure maximum protection in an accident.

Whether or not your state has a helmet law, wearing one whose features are in line with U.S. Department of Transportation standards is the best way to stay safe, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Helmets reduce fatality risk by 37 percent and reduce head injury risk by 69 percent. In 2013, helmets saved an estimated 1,630 lives for motorcyclists involved in accidents. Wearing one doesn’t just keep you legal in many states, it protects your brain and your life.

Don Protective Clothing

motorcycle rider putting on glovesWearing layers helps prevent cuts, rashes, and burns in case of an accident. Leather is a widely adopted fabric of choice by motorcyclists, since it is durable, is flexible, and adds a more protective barrier compared to other types of clothing. Even in warm weather, a protective jacket should be worn, and many motorcycle shops sell jackets that have temperature control so your skin can breathe while you wear it.

 

Make yourself more visible to other motorists by wearing bright colors or reflective clothing. A neon helmet, helmet with neon stickers on it, or brightly colored jacket alerts drivers who may not be paying attention that you’re in their area. Adding protective, ventilated eyewear to your ensemble protects your eyes in case of flying debris like rocks.

Choose the Appropriate Bike

Make sure that whatever motorcycle you purchase is an ideal fit for your height and body type. Being comfortable on your bike allows you to more quickly adapt to changing road conditions and can make you feel more secure as you ride. New riders should consider cruisers, since their engines are optimized for lower speeds, and their low seats allow you to easily put your feet on the ground.

 

Woman Sport Bike Motorcycle Safety Awareness

 

Carefully consider the engine of the bike you choose, since supersport bikes are deadlier than standard or cruiser bikes. These types of vehicles are built for racing and have increased horsepower, which makes dangerous behaviors like speeding or taking sharp turns even riskier.

 

Avoid Hazards

There are some hazards that are beyond your control, and some which you can avoid at all costs. All increase your likelihood of a crash or fatality. In addition to following all driving laws on the road, be sure to avoid:

  • Drinking and driving: Avoid alcohol before riding a motorcycle, as well as prescription and illegal drugs
  • Texting and driving: Make sure both hands are on your bike at all times, and never use a mobile device while riding
  • Loud music: A blaring headset can affect your ability to hear important traffic cues or decrease your alertness on the road
  • Puddles, oil slicks, and road work: Take extra care to notice road work and slow down while riding through it, and refrain from riding in inclement weather
  • Unsafe drivers: Be aware of the driving behavior of other motorists around you, and if you see unsafe driving like illegal lane changes or increases in speed, stop riding near the motorist

Unfortunately, you can take all the motorcycle precautions possible and still be the victim of a crash because of someone else’s poor driving. It is essential to seek medical attention immediately after any accident and keep a log of all injuries and doctor interactions. Photograph the scene, including your vehicle and the other vehicle, and injuries. You should also document the names and contact information of all witnesses. This information will help your personal injury case. Contact your insurance agency, and consider hiring a motorcycle lawyer if you need help with the claims process or have experienced an injury.

Motorcycle riding should be fun and enjoyable. By investing in training, proper equipment and clothing, and the right bike, you can increase your ability to stay protected. Be vigilant of everyone you’re sharing the road with, and take a cautionary attitude to ensure a safe ride.