Drugged driving increasingly problematic in Northeast Wisconsin

While drunk driving is slowly becoming less prevalent, the use of other mind and mood-altering substances are still out on Wisconsin roads.

There have been some significant strides made in reducing the number of drunk drivers on Wisconsin roads. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the number of alcohol-impaired drivers has been reduced by nearly one-third in the last seven years. It is a positive sign, especially as more data is being revealed that any amount of alcohol impairs the ability to drive, not just amounts over the legal blood alcohol content of .08.

Unfortunately, the strides made in curbing drunk driving are negated by the increase in drugged driving. According to the NHTSA's Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, almost 25 percent of drivers had marijuana or another drug in their system that decreases the ability to drive safely.

The problem is particularly severe in Northeast Wisconsin.

According to Green Bay ABC Affiliate Action 2 News, Wisconsin authorities are reporting more instances of drugged driving crashes in recent years. From 2009 to 2013, hundreds of drugged driving crashes were reported in Brown County, Fond du Lac County, and Winnebago County. That is the most in Wisconsin, outside of population-dense Madison and Milwaukee.

Over 100 people have been killed in Northeast Wisconsin because of drugged driving, while several hundred more have been injured.

Drugged driving endangers lives at all hours

When it comes to impaired driving, there is no such thing as a safe alternative to drinking. Marijuana has been shown to decrease driving ability, and even drugs taken legally, such as prescription pain medication and sleep aids, can be incredibly dangerous on Wisconsin roads.

Worse, many drugs, especially if prescribed, can be used at all hours. While many law enforcement officials are on the lookout for drunk drivers at bar close, on holidays, or after big events, a driver who takes prescription pain pills may think he or she is fine, only realizing while out on the road that they are in no condition to drive. Officers not on the lookout for impaired drivers may not be able to stop the driver before he or she injures someone.

Help is available to those injured

Impaired driving is impaired driving, no matter the substance involved. While cracking down on impaired drivers is a priority for federal and state authorities, they can't stop everyone who makes the incredibly risky decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

Keywords: drugged driving, car accidents