Florida TLSAE Course Module - Driving After Drug Use

Driving After Drug Use

More than one in four teens who drive say they've driven impaired or on drugs. 57% of drivers age 16-20 who admitted driving after taking drugs felt that they were “not high enough to cause a crash.”

About one in eight young drivers believe using recreational drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, speed, or ecstasy does not affect their driving. Study shows Alcohol, Ecstasy and marijuana use among teens is on the rise. Most teens and their friends usually get high at parties.

In the limited time we have to administer this course, most of the focus has been on the dangers, results, and risks associated with alcohol-impaired driving. The danger of sharing our roads with impaired drivers also includes drivers that are under the influence of other drugs.

Prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal drugs can impair driving skills including vision, reaction time, judgment, hearing, and the ability to multi-task. Driving requires other cognitive skills such as information processing and psychomotor skills, which may also be impaired by the use of assorted drugs.

It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs. Penalties include losing your license, a fine, and/or jail. Combining drug use with driving inexperience and high-risk behavior can lead to disaster on the road.

We briefly introduced other drugs and how they affect the body. This module will address the most commonly abused illegal and prescription drugs and how they impact driving performance. The topics that will be covered include:
  • Research Related to Other Drugs and Driving
  • Marijuana and Driving
  • Cocaine and Driving
  • Depressants and Amphetamines
  • Is Any Drug Safe to Take and Drive?

Research Related to Other Drugs and Driving

A vast amount of research has been conducted on the effects of alcohol impaired driving. Methods of measuring BAL and the ability to identify alcohol-impaired drivers have become a relatively accurate science. Not as much research has been dedicated to determining the effects of other drugs on the ability to operate a vehicle. However, we know what drugs do to the body and that many people take drugs and get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

There are statistics that show drivers are on the road under the influence of mind- and body-altering substances.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed a survey and report to present data on driving following drug use, an area in which previous research is limited.

In-home personal interviews with 11,847 respondents age 16 and older represented over 166 million drivers in the United States. The 166 million drivers represent only those drivers who reported driving within two hours of drug and/or alcohol use.

According to the Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, an estimated 23.6 million teens are in grades seven through 12 in America today. Of them:
  • 11.3 million (48 percent of the teen population) have tried illegal drugs at least 1 time;
  • 8.5 million (37 percent) have used illegal drugs in the past year at least 2 times;
  • 5.4 million (24 percent) - nearly one out of every four teens in the nation - have used illegal drugs in the past 30 days

Driving After Drug Use
  •     A majority (68%) of licensed teen drivers who use drugs regularly report that they “drug and drive.”
  •     28% (46.5 million people) reported driving within two hours after drug or alcohol use.
  •     5% (9 million people) drove after drug use, with or without alcohol.
  •     23% (38 million people) drove after alcohol use only.

Characteristics of Drivers Who Drove After Drug Use
  •     Driving after drug use was more common among drivers who were:
  •     Young (13% for those age 16-20 vs. 5% for those age 21 and older),
  •     Male (7% vs. 4% for females),
  •     Never married (11% vs. 3% for those who were married), and
  •     Unemployed (11% vs. 6% for those employed full-time).

Among those who reported driving after using marijuana:
  • The majority reported heavy or weekly use in the past year (60%).
  • More than half claimed that the marijuana use did not at all affect their ability to drive safely (56%).
  • More than half perceived that they were no more likely to be stopped by police when driving after marijuana use than when sober.
A large majority of those who drove after the use of tranquilizers and sedatives (84% and 71%, respectively) drove following the medical use of these drugs. In contrast, only 43% of those who drove after the use of stimulants used these drugs for medical purposes.

Driving after drug use most commonly occurred on smaller roads (55%), in urban areas (56%), on the weekend (67%), and usually began between 6:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. (49%). The data indicates that even if you are not taking drugs and driving, many people are. Drugged drivers are under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, sedatives, and speed.

If you do not take drugs and drive, it is still critical that you understand you need to be alert to drivers who are erratic, speed, and seem to be unable to maintain lane position. Drive defensively, especially when driving at night or in an environment that might have a high risk of drugged drivers in your midst (6).


Marijuana and Driving


Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States.

Marijuana was the illicit drug used most often by drivers who drove after drug use (used by 70% of those who drove after drug use).

Many young drivers don't believe there are risks associated with marijuana use. Approximately one in six (15%) teens reported driving under the influence of marijuana, a number nearly equivalent to those who reported driving under the influence of alcohol (16%), despite higher prevalence of alcohol consumption among teens.

Marijuana was the illicit drug most often used by drivers who drove after drug use (70%). Research shows that smoking marijuana affects focus, concentration, perception, coordination, and reaction time; many of the skills required for safe driving. The use of the drug can make it harder for a driver to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. These effects can last up to 24 hours.

Marijuana is also mind altering. Thinking and reflexes are slowed, causing difficulty in responding to sudden unexpected events. A driver’s ability to “track” or stay in the traffic lane, to brake quickly, and to maintain the correct distance between cars is affected.

After alcohol, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana's major psychoactive constituent, is the drug found most often in the blood of drivers involved in road collisions. With some exceptions, epidemiological studies indicate the presence of THC in roughly 4-12% of drivers injured or killed in traffic collisions.

Marijuana's primary ingredient is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Marijuana enters the body by ingested through food and drink, smoking or eating the plant's leaves, seeds or stems. The effects of marijuana are usually felt within 5 and 15 minutes after ingestion, smoking or eating and can last up to several hours, depending on the individual's body chemistry.

Some effects of marijuana on its users: Experiencing a dreamlike state increase in the senses specifically, sight, smell, taste and hearing

THC is stored within the body's fat cells. THC can be detected by drug tests in a human body up to a week after use. THC stays within the body's fat cells up to 28 days after use. THC is eliminated through the liver.

The effects of marijuana are usually felt within 5 and 15 minutes after ingestion, smoking or eating and can last up to several hours, depending on the individual's body chemistry.

 
Cocaine and Driving

Cocaine is the second most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. Users can be from all economic statuses, all ages, and all genders.

Cocaine creates a strong sense of exhilaration. Users generally feel invincible, carefree, alert, euphoric, and have a lot of energy. This is usually followed by agitation, depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

Cocaine is a potent and dangerous drug. The short-term and long-term effects of cocaine are equally dangerous for driving ability. Cocaine users are often stopped for speeding. When a user has elevated feelings of well-being it can lead to an overestimation of driving ability. This can lead to risk-taking behaviors, such as trying to beat the light as it changes to red. When coming down, users are often irritable, anxious, or agitated, which may lead to aggressive behavior toward drivers they find aggravating.

The following effects of cocaine may have a dramatic impact on driving ability:
  •     Blurred vision
  •     Dilated pupils
  •     High anxiety
  •     Irritability
  •     Violent behavior
  •     Vomiting
  •     Hallucinations
  •     Chest pain
  •     Constricted blood vessels
  •     Seizure
  •     Cardiac arrest
The short-term effects of cocaine include increased alertness, increased body temperature, heart rate, and talkativeness.

They may also advance (Other side effects of cocaine) to Nausea, anxiety, headache, Muscle twitching or tics, tremors, chest pain, abdominal pain, respiratory failure, irritability, panic, seizure, stroke, heart attack, coma, and death.

The most dramatic effects of cocaine and driving are on vision. Cocaine may cause higher sensitivity to light, halos around bright objects, and difficulty focusing. Cocaine affects the driver's view of reality, reaction time, heightens impulsive or impatient behavior, heightens aggressive or creating hostile behavior and distorts the drivers decision-making process.

There is an increase in impulsive behavior and tendencies to take more risks. It also creates confusion in the user’s brain. A person using cocaine has the illusion of being alert and stimulated although physical reactions are impaired.

The long-term effects of using cocaine can include heart disease, heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures, and gastrointestinal problems.

The danger of experiencing cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory failure is equal in both short- and long-term cocaine abuse.

Impaired sight, impulsive behavior, and confusion are compounded with the risk of a heart attack or seizure behind the wheel.


Barbiturates


Barbiturates are among the most widely used depressant drugs (medically and non-medically) in our society, and are the toxic agents in thousands of accidental or intentional deaths annually in North America.


Central Nervous System and Depressants


Besides having therapeutic uses, depressants are often used for their intoxicating effects. Some people take them in addition to alcohol, or as a substitute.

Central Nervous System

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants slow down the central nervous system, the control center for your body. This center manages your ability to steer, brake, and accelerate the vehicle. Your brain uses information it receives from your nerves to coordinate all of your actions and reactions. When this system is slowed down, so are all of the functions essential for safe driving.

There are many Central Nervous System depressants such as Tranquilizers and sedatives. GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. CNS depressants most act on the brain similarly they affect the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Depressants enhance activity in Gamma-aminobutyric acid that appears to decrease synaptic transmission and slows brain activity, creating a drowsy effect.

Depressants

Depressants are powerful and classified as sedative/hypnotics. Sedative/hypnotics are medically prescribed to treat sleeplessness, anxiety, and tension, and to help prevent or mitigate epileptic seizures. Certain sedative/hypnotics are also used to induce anesthesia for short surgical procedures or at the beginning of longer ones.

Depressants are often used for their intoxicating effects. Some people take them in addition to alcohol, or as a substitute.

The CNS drugs sedate your eye muscles and vision can become blurred. Reaction time is slowed and so is the ability to make quick decisions. This could result in a driver not seeing a light change or not noticing a child in the street in time to stop the vehicle. When driving at night, it may be difficult to see a curve ahead or an oncoming car in the lane ahead when passing. The possible scenarios are impossible to list - but each could result in elevated risk of a potential crash.


Amphetamines


Amphetamines, like adrenaline, affect not only the brain but also the heart, lungs, and many other organs. Short-term effects appear soon after a single dose and disappear within a few hours or days.

At low doses, such as those prescribed medically, physical effects include loss of appetite, rapid breathing and heartbeat, high blood pressure, and dilated pupils. Larger doses may produce fever, sweating, headache, blurred vision, and dizziness. And very high doses may cause flushing, pallor, very rapid or irregular heartbeat, tremors, loss of coordination, and collapse. Deaths have been reported as a direct result of amphetamine use. Some have occurred as a consequence of burst blood vessels in the brain, heart failure, or very high fever.

The psychological effects of short-term use include a feeling of well-being and great alertness and energy. With increased doses, users may become talkative, restless, and excited, and may feel a sense of power and superiority. They may also behave in a bizarre, repetitive fashion. Many become hostile and aggressive.

It is unsafe to drive after using amphetamines. They reduce coordination and affect the ability to judge speed and distance. Amphetamines also increase a person's confidence so they are more likely to take dangerous risks. Amphetamines cause a false sense of alertness and potential hallucinations, which can result in risky driving behavior and increased accidents.

The only real predictable thing about a drug and how an individual will respond to a drug is it is NOT predictable - this is especially true for illegal or illicit drugs because they are not regulated and can contain dangerous unknown substances.
 
The effects of any drug depend on several factors:
  • The amount taken at one time
  • How the drug is consumed
  • The user’s past drug experience
The circumstances under which the drug is taken such as the simultaneous use of alcohol or other drugs, etc.

If you are taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs, always read the label and follow the precaution if it indicates to not operate heavy machinery. Warning labels are there for a good reason.

If you are with a driver under the influence of illegal drugs, intervene - “friends don’t let friends drive drugged” and be sure to find alternative transportation if you are a passenger.

It is not possible to go through every drug and its possible effects on the ability to drive in this course. Reference the chart below for an indication of common drugs and their effects of the ability to operate a vehicle safely.

The data indicates that even if you are not taking drugs and driving, many people are. Drugged drivers are under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, sedatives, and speed. Even if you do not take drugs and drive, it is still critical that you understand you need to be alert to drivers who are erratic, speed, and seem to be unable to maintain lane position. Drive defensively especially when driving at night or in an environment that might have a high risk of drugged drivers in your midst.

Although there has been much research on the effects of alcohol’s impairment while driving, not as much has been dedicated to determining the effects of other drugs on driving skills. However, we are aware of the effect of drugs on the body and that many people take drugs and then get behind the wheel of a car to drive.


Summary


According to various studies and reports, driving after drug use was more common among drivers who were under the age of 20 years, were male, never married, and unemployed.

When driving under the influence of a sedative/hypnotic, there is a high risk of drowsiness and fatigue. Drowsiness affects your senses, especially your vision. Reaction time is slowed and so is the ability to make quick decisions.

If you are taking over-the-counter or prescription drugs, always read the label and follow the precaution if it indicates to not operate heavy machinery. Your vehicle is heavy machinery!

If you are with a driver under the influence of illegal drugs, intervene - “friends don’t let friends drive drugged” and be sure to find alternative transportation if you are a passenger.

  1. .      Amphetamines are dangerous to take before and while driving. They  Reduce coordination and affect the ability to judge speed and distance .

  2. .      The only real predictable thing about a drug and how an individual will respond to a drug is  That it is NOT predictable .

  3. .      Studies have shown that driving after drug use was more common among drivers who were  Unmarried, unemployed males who were less than 20 years of age .

  4. .      The effects of any drug depend on  All of the answers are correct .

  5. .      Most people who drove after the use of drugs were using  Sedatives .

  6. .      True or False: The only predictable thing about a drug is that it will make you sick. False

  7. .       28%  of people reported driving within two hours after drug or alcohol use.

  8. .      True or False: Drowsiness affects your senses, especially your sense of smell. False

  9. .      Cocaine may cause higher sensitivity to light, causing the driver to see  Halos around bright objects .

  10. .     True or False: Many young drivers don't believe there are risks associated with marijuana use. True



Blood Alcohol Level and Impaired driving

Alcohol affects your driving ability





Florida TLSAE/Drug & Alcohol 4 hour Course Online

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This is a first-time drivers ed course for new aspiring drivers. The state of Florida requires all new drivers take a 4-hour drug and alcohol course. If you want your Permit License you must take this course. You can take the DATA course when you are 14 1/2. You can sign up right now at our website. Our course is easy and fun!
  •     Florida 4 hour first-time drivers course also referred as:
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  •     DATA - Drug Alcohol Traffic Awareness course
  •     DATE Drug Alcohol Traffic Awareness Education course
  •     ADAPT - Alcohol Drugs Accident Prevention Training
  •     Drug & Alcohol Course or Drug and Alcohol Class
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  •     The Permit Test is also known as the DMV Exam or DMV Test
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