Every year, thousands of people are killed or injured by drunken drivers. Drunken driving is a criminal offense and is often punished by high fines and/or a prison sentence. Teenage bodies are still growing and alcohol has a greater impact on young people’s physical and mental well-being than on older people. Now, drugged driving can make driving a car unsafe just like driving after drinking alcohol. So is that drug or drink worth someone’s life?
Drugs blur memory, causing blank spots. According to drugabuse.gov, drivers who have used marijuana can experience slow reaction times, impaired judgment of time and distance, and decreased motor coordination. Drivers who have used cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive and reckless. Certain kinds of sedatives, called benzodiazepines, can cause dizziness and drowsiness, which can lead to accidents.
Some drivers may not have reached the legal standard for being drunk but they have reduced their ability to see, make decisions or operate a vehicle. Research studies have shown negative effects of marijuana on drivers, including an increase in lane weaving and poor reaction time and attention to the road. Use of alcohol with marijuana made drivers more impaired, causing even more lane weaving.
In 2013, 2,163 teens in the United States ages 16 to 19 were killed and 243,243 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes, according to cdc.gov; also, six teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 9.9 million people age 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed. In a 2013 report, an estimated 28.7 million people reported driving under in the influence of alcohol at least once in the previous year.
NSDUH data also show that men are more likely than women to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A higher percentage of young adults ages 16 to 25 drives after taking drugs or drinking than do adults age 26 or older. “Drivers younger than 26 cause the most auto fatalities in the United States, regardless of alcohol consumption. But 21 percent of young drivers involved in a fatal accident have some alcohol in their system — higher than in other age groups,” according to nytimes.com.
My point is driving under the influence is more dangerous for teens. Teens are more likely to speed. I think the reason most teenagers drive under the influence is because their friends do it and they want to look “cool” to impress them, or their friends apply peer pressure to them. Another reason is that they grew up with parents who drove under the influence and they think they can do it, too. I think some teenagers are influenced by the people around them to do these things. The laws should be stricter with DUI. I also think people should be more aware and conscious of it.
Shantarra Brown is a Smith-Cotton High School student.